Pakistan ‘no clue’ on kidnapped western tourists

Published: Updated:

Pakistani security forces Thursday had no clue to the whereabouts of two Czech women abducted in the south western province of Baluchistan despite an extensive search, a senior official said.

The women, who apparently crossed into Pakistan from Iran on holiday, were taken at gunpoint on Wednesday, around 550 kilometres (350 miles) west of Quetta, the main town of Baluchistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran.

“The whole administration, including police and law enforcement agencies have been on high alert since the kidnapping took place,” provincial home secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani told AFP.

“The hunt is continuing. Police, levies (tribal police) and local tribesmen have searched the whole area up to the Afghan border but we still have no clue about their whereabouts,” he said.

Durrani said it would be “premature” to determine who was involved. “They could be typical kidnappers or any militant group,” he added.

Kidnappings plague parts of Baluchistan and northwest Pakistan, where criminals looking for ransom snatch foreigners and locals, sometimes passing their hostages on to Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked groups.

A Swiss couple, also apparently on holiday, were held captive by the Pakistani Taliban for more than eight months after being abducted in 2011 in Baluchistan. They were recovered safely in March 2012 in circumstances that remain unclear.

The following month, British Red Cross worker Khalil Dale, 60, was found dead nearly four months after he was abducted on the outskirts of Quetta.

Baluchistan is in the grip of a nine-year separatist uprising by nationalists demanding political autonomy and a greater share of profits from the province’s wealth of natural oil, gas and mineral resources.