Swiss confirm 2 nationals kidnapped in SW Pakistan

AP News
Posted: Jul 02, 2011 9:56 AM
Swiss confirm 2 nationals kidnapped in SW Pakistan

Two Swiss tourists have been kidnapped in Pakistan's southwest Baluchistan province, the Foreign Ministry confirmed Saturday.

Pakistani authorities notified the embassy in Islamabad late Friday following the abduction of the pair, who were traveling through the region by car, the Swiss Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The kidnapping is the first such incident involving Swiss citizens in Pakistan, and authorities in Switzerland have set up a task force combining police and intelligence services to work on the case, it said.

The task force "is pressing for everything necessary to be done to allow the hostages' liberation in good health," the statement said.

The embassy in Islamabad is also in constant contact with local authorities and police which has started searching for the pair, it added.

Pakistani authorities said Friday gunmen kidnapped the pair as they were eating at a hotel in Baluchistan province.

The Swiss ministry provided no information on where the woman and the man, which were described as "tourists," were going, nor did it elaborate on what exactly the pair were doing in the unstable southwestern Pakistani region that borders Iran and Afghanistan.

The pair's identity was not disclosed.

A local Pakistani official said Friday the pair were driving from Punjab province, and when they reached Baluchistan's Lorali area, about 90 miles (150 kilometers) north of Quetta, the capital of the province, they were given a police escort. However, once they reached its outskirts, beyond the area under the police jurisdiction, they were left without the security guides, Sohailur Rehman added.

Baluchistan is a particularly dangerous region in Pakistan. It is the scene of a low-level separatist insurgency, and criminal gangs involved in the kidnapping for ransom trade are common.

Most kidnapping victims in the country are Pakistani, but foreign aid workers, diplomats and other foreigners have also been targeted.