Gunmen kidnap Czech tourists in SW Pakistan

Mar 14, 2013, 5:00 AM EDT
(REUTERS/Naseer Ahmed)

QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — Gunmen abducted two female Czech tourists and their police guard as they were traveling on a bus through a troubled province in southwest Pakistan, the Czech foreign ministry and a Pakistani government official said Thursday.

The women were on the road from Iran to Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's southwest Baluchistan province, when they were seized on Wednesday, said Abdul Qadus, the top government official in the area.

The two had been given a police guard to escort them on a passenger bus, said Qadus. But the policeman was no match for the eight to 10 gunmen who stopped them in Chaghi district near the Iran and Afghanistan borders, he said.

The gunmen took the captives to Afghanistan, where they disarmed the policeman and released him, said Qadus.

Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman Karel Srol confirmed the kidnapping, saying the incident took place about 120 kilometers (72 miles) from the Iranian border. He said Pakistan's Interior Ministry had informed them that a special investigator was on his way to the area.

Srol said they were expecting further information from Pakistani authorities later in the day Thursday.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. Islamist militants, separatist gangs and criminals with links to both have been accused of previous kidnappings in Baluchistan.

A British aid worker for the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross was kidnapped in Quetta in January 2012, and his beheaded body was found near the city several months later. A note was attached to his body saying he was killed because no ransom was paid.

Taliban militants kidnapped a Swiss couple traveling through Baluchistan in July 2011. They released them eight months later and said they received a ransom to do so.


Associated Press Writer Karel Janicek contributed to this report from Prague.