Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pakistan: Attempted Kidnapping of Spanish Tourist Results in Seven Deaths, Czech Kidnap Victims, Abducted in March 2013 Still Missing

According to http://www.upi.com, seven members of the paramilitary forces in Pakistan were killed on Wednesday (January 22) during an exchange of gunfire with gunmen who were attempting to abduct a Spanish tourist.

Balochistan tribal police were escorting a Spanish cyclist from the Pakistani-Iranian border to Quetta when the gunmen attacked, according to Voice of America.

COMMENT: Seven tribal police were killed and ten others, including the tourist, were injured, according to DAWN NEWS.

The Spanish tourist and all injured were taken to a hospital in Mastung, where the Spanish tourist was listed in critical condition.

"The militants wanted to kidnap the Spanish tourist, according to Asad ur Rehman Gailani, the Balochistan home secretary.

In response to the attack by the kidnappers, separate units of the police, tribal police and the frontier corps backed up by two Pakistani army helicopters, launched a joint operation in the Darin Garh area of Mastung.

As I have said for several years, tourists of any nationality do NOT belong anywhere in Pakistan, but particularly Balochistan and Quetta!

Although I wish the Spanish tourist well in his recovery, providing he lives, the Spanish tourist should know that his ignorance of the security situation in Pakistan, if he even cares, has caused the loss of life of seven dedicated tribal police.

A few experienced words of advice to all "tourists": The Iranian border guards at the Pakistani-Iranian border crossing have been known to alert the Taliban in the area where ignorant foreigners cross the border, not realizing they are placing all Pakistani police in "Harm's Way."

Now, an interesting twist.

According to The Associated Press, a video of two Czech women,Antonie Chrastecka and Hana Humpalova, both 24, who were abducted by gunmen shortly after they crossed into Pakistan from Iran in a mini-van depicts both of them as speaking and alive in a video-clip reportedly shot on August 23.

The two women were on the road from Iran to Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's southwest Baluchistan province, when they were kinapped on March 13, 2013.

To date, no one knows who is holding these two Czech women or when they will ever be released.

The Czech Foreign Ministry said Wednesday (October 30) that the video was delivered to the Czech Embassy in Islamabad and was released to the media at the request of the families of Chrastecka and Humpalova.

Independent sources suggest that no one really knows where the two Czech women are being held. They could be held in either Pakistan or Iran.

There have been previous video-clip releases in April and July from the two hostages, clearly scripted, seemingly for the benefit of an English-speaking audience, even though the young women spoke in accented and broken English.

The two psychology students were kidnapped while being escorted by tribal police after crossing into Pakistan from Iran.

The kidnappers of Chrastecka and Humpalova have demanded that Aafia Siddiqui, 41, a neuro-scientist who was given an 86-year sentence by a US court in 2010 for shooting at FBI agents and soldiers in Afghanistan be released in exchange for the two Czech hostages.

Siddiqui emigrated to the US in 1990 and obtained a PhD in 2001 from Brandeis University.

In early 2003, Siddiqui returned to Pakistan. In March 2003, she was named as a courier and financier for al-Qaeda by Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and was placed on a "wanted for questioning" list by the FBI. She subsequently disappeared until she was arrested in Ghazni, Afghanistan, with documents and notes for making bombs plus containers of sodium cyanide.

Siddiqui was later arrested and indicted in New York City District Court in September 2008 on charges of attempted murder and assault stemming from an incident in an interview with US authorities in Ghazni, charges which Siddiqui denied. After 18 months in detention, she was tried and convicted in early 2010 and sentenced to 86 years in prison in a federal detention facility in Texas.

The kidnap victims had planned to go to India via Quetta and Lahore. What they did not realize, though, is that traveling by van through Iran, although cheaper, brought with it considerably greater personal risk of abduction.

As I have said so often in the past, ALL foreign travelers should enter Pakistan ONLY by air. 

Tourists are strongly discouraged from traveling to Pakistan.