PESHAWAR, Pakistan - Pakistani officials pressured tribal elders Friday to help rescue 23 policemen believed to have been kidnapped by the Taliban during attacks on their posts in the country's troubled northwest tribal region.
Also Friday, missiles fired from unmanned U.S. aircraft killed four suspected militants at a training centre elsewhere in the remote frontier area, the main sanctuary for al-Qaida and Taliban fighters in the country, Pakistani intelligence officials said.
The 23 tribal policemen went missing before dawn Thursday when militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons attacked two posts in the Darra Adam Khel tribal region. Two policemen were also killed in the attacks.
Senior political officials held a meeting in the main northwest city of Peshawar on Friday with tribal elders from both the villages where the attacks took place, said government administrator Naveed Akbar Khan. Tribal law stipulates that the elders could be punished for attacks that occurred in their areas.
Officials gave the elders until Monday to rescue the missing policemen and arrest the culprits, said Khan. If they fail to do so, authorities may take punitive action, such as cutting off monthly allowances they receive from the government. The elders said they would do everything they could to help, said Khan.
Security forces have also launched an operation to try to recover the missing policemen.
The U.S. missile strike Friday occurred in Gorbuz village in the North Waziristan tribal area, said Pakistani intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. Three missiles hit a suspected militant training centre in the village, they said.
The U.S. rarely speaks publicly about the covert CIA drone program in Pakistan, but officials have said privately that the strikes have killed many senior Taliban and al-Qaida commanders.
Associated Press writer Rasool Dawar contributed to this report from Peshawar.