- Kuwait Times Extra
ISLAMABAD: A Swiss couple held captive by the Taleban in Pakistan since July turned up at an army post close to the Afghan border yesterday and was flown to safety by the Pakistani military, an army spokesman said. The Swiss man and woman, who were seized in July in the southwest of the country, were last seen in a militant video in October, saying their captors were threatening to kill them.
Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said the couple showed up at an army post in Miran Shah in North Waziristan, an Al-Qaeda and Taleban stronghold. He said the couple was then flown to Peshawar, the main city in northwestern Pakistan, on an army helicopter. “They say they escaped from the custody of militants,” he said.
Two local Pakistani Taleban commanders said the couple had been freed, but only after an undisclosed ransom had been paid and some Taleban prisoners were released from Pakistani custody. They refused to give their names. The Swiss Embassy was not immediately able to confirm the development. Militants and criminal gangs often kidnap wealthy Pakistanis and less commonly foreigners.
Large ransoms are often paid to secure their release but such payments are rarely confirmed. There are at least five other foreigners currently being held in Pakistan. On Jan 5, armed men kidnapped a British man working for the Red Cross in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan, the violence-wracked province where the Swiss couple were also taken captive.
Last August, a 70-year-old American humanitarian aid worker was kidnapped from his house in the Punjabi city of Lahore. Al-Qaeda claimed to be holding the man, Warren Weinstein, and said in a video he would be released if the United States stopped airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. – AP
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