Peshawar: A Pakistani government official says militants have released more than 90 tribesmen they abducted from a tribal festival in the north-west but still hold seven influential men.

Arshad Khan said on Sunday that tribal elders negotiated the release after the gunmen seized some 100 tribesmen on the border of Orakzai and Khyber tribal regions on Saturday. Paramilitary troops had begun a search operation soon after the abductions.

A tribal elder said the militants have not demanded anything for the release of the seven men, from the Qamberkhel tribe. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he said he was involved in sensitive negotiations.

The Pakistani military claims to have cleared the area of militants, although they still strike occasionally.