Pak Academic Held by Taliban for Four Years Recovered by Security Forces

A prominent Pakistani academic has been recovered by security forces from the restive North Waziristan region, four years after he was abducted by the Taliban militants, officials said today.

Professor Ajmal Khan, vice-chancellor of Islamia College University Peshawar, was kidnapped in September 2010 when he was going to the university.

Army said in a statement that security forces were trying to locate the academic since his abduction. It said: "Security Forces safely recovered Ajmal Khan, VC Islamia University Peshawar."

Khan told Dawn news that the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) kept him in Waziristan Agency and the security forces helped him getting freedom.

The Pakistani military has been locked in a major assault to wipe out Taliban strongholds in North Waziristan region since mid-June in an operation named Zarb-e-Azb.

Khan had appeared in several video messages asking the government to negotiate his release from the TTP, which began a bloody insurgency against the state in 2007.

The Taliban militants had refused to release Khan despite several back-channel efforts by the government and his relatives.

Local television channels showed the released professor in good health as he was meeting his relatives, colleagues, students who flocked to his residence.

Khan is also a cousin of Awami National Party leader Asfandyar Wali Khan -- the grandson of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan also known as Frontier Gandhi for his role in the freedom movement.

Taliban had demanded Rs 500 million as ransom in addition to release of dozens of militants held by the government in return for Khan's freedom.

Pakistan's northern region, close to the border with Afghanistan, has witnessed several deadly strikes by Taliban militants, who flee across the border after carrying out attacks.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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