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QUETTA: Unknown attackers kidnapped two Czech women tourists in western Pakistan, officials of both countries said yesterday.
The Czech Foreign Ministry said the tourists — believed to be in their mid-20s — were kidnapped on Wednesday after their van was intercepted by assailants on their way from the border with Iran. “The group took them out of the van together with their guard, who was later released,” spokeswoman Johana Grohova said.
The identity of the assailants was unknown, she said. No group has claimed responsibility or demanded any ransom.
The incident happened some 100km (60 miles) east of the Iranian border in the province of Baluchistan at around 6.30pm (1315 GMT).
Baluchistan Home Secretary Akbar Durrani said the kidnappers were driving a brown Land Cruiser. “They drove to an unknown place. The women had planned to go to India via Quetta and Lahore,” he said.
Prague declined to reveal the identity of the hostages and the Pakistani authorities said the women were born in 1988.
Pakistani security forces said they had no clue to the whereabouts of the women despite an extensive search.
“The whole administration, including police and law enforcement agencies, have been on high alert since the kidnapping,” Baluchistan Home Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani said.
“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. It would be premature to determine who was involved. They could be typical kidnappers or any militant group.”
Kidnappings plague Baluchistan and northwest Pakistan, where criminals looking for ransom snatch foreigners and locals, sometimes passing hostages on to Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked groups.
A Swiss couple 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 autonomy and a greater share of profits from its natural oil, gas and mineral resources. Agencies