A Pakistani police official says seven policemen who were abducted by bandits in southern Punjab province the previous day, have been freed after their captors abandoned them and left them tied up in a forest.

Senior officer Atiq Tahir says police were pursuing the bandits and after finding them, cordoned off the area on Monday. The gang was demanding the release several of its members who are behind bars.

The official says that after an hours-long shootout, the bandits left the policemen tied up in bushes, and escaped from the area.

Tahir says police will continue to try and clear the area, known for gangs that have operate there for years.

The seven were captured early on Sunday while returning by boat to the town of Rojhan, in Rajanpur district.