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Pakistani Taliban capture 22 soldiers after government rejects terms

Pakistan's interior minister dismissed today Pakistani Taliban conditions for a cease-fire, including changes to the constitution and a break with the US.

By Mehreen Zahra-Malik and Jibran AhmadReuters / December 27, 2012

An Afghan border policeman feeds a detained suspected Taliban member near Walli Was in Paktika province, near the border with Pakistan in November.

Goran Tomasevic/Reuters/File

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Era Ismail Khan, Islamabad and Peshawar, Pakistan

The Pakistani Taliban have seized at least 22 men from a paramilitary force in attacks on three checkpoints in northern Pakistan, a regional official said on Thursday, but Taliban and other Pakistani sources put the number even higher.

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At least 22 men were missing, two had been killed and one was injured after the overnight attacks, said Naveed Akbar, a regional official whose remit covers the paramilitary units.

Other Pakistani officials said at least 30 men had been taken, a figure confirmed by Taliban spokesmen.

This comes just after the Pakistani Taliban have outlined conditions for a cease-fire, including the adoption of Islamic law and a break with the United States, a spokesman said Thursday, an offer dismissed out of hand by the interior minister.

The Taliban, in a letter sent to the Pakistan daily The News, also demanded that Pakistan stop its involvement in the war pitting Afghan insurgents against the Kabul government and refocus on a war of "revenge" against India.

The letter from Taliban spokesman Amir Muawiya comes as the focus in Afghanistan shifts from a military push by NATO troops to potential peace talks, and amid speculation of a rift between top Pakistan Talibanleaders.

Military officials told Reuters last month that Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud had lost operational command to his deputy, Wali ur-Rehman, considered to be more open to reconciliation with the Pakistani government. The Taliban deny Mehsud has lost command.

The Pakistani Taliban are a separate entity allied to the Afghan Taliban. Known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), they have launched devastating attacks against the Pakistani military and civilians.

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