Pakistan Hostage Crisis Ends

Captors described as local criminals, not al-Qaeda or Taliban
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2008 1:05 PM CST
An armored police car is seen parked outside a school where a gang of criminals who had taken dozens of school children and teachers hostage in Bannu, Pakistan Monday, Jan. 28, 2008. Gunmen released unharmed...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A hostage situation in northwest Pakistan ended peacefully today after gunmen took at least 30 schoolchildren and teachers captive, CNN reports. The hostages were released unharmed and their captors were handed over to a court of tribal elders. Earlier reports said that up to 250 students and teachers were held, but Pakistani police said that most of them were able to escape the captors.

Pakistan’s interior minister described the gunmen as local criminals out for profit, not Islamist extremists. They had allegedly tried to kidnap a local health official for ransom when police engaged them in a firefight, causing them to seek shelter in the school, and take the hostages in an attempt to secure safe passage from the area.