Islamabad - Pakistani police are trying to find and rescue two Czech tourists, kidnapped on Wednesday 13 March by unknown gunmen in Pakistan's western province of Baluchistan.
The two women and a local police officer who was accompanying them were taken from a minibus 100 kilometers to 120 kilometers from the Iranian border. Pakistani authorities confirmed the incident to the Czech embassy in Islamabad, which has already contacted the relatives of the kidnapped Czech nationals.
"We have received a confirmation from our embassy in Islamabad that they were kidnapped," Foreign Ministry spokesman Karel Srol told Aktualne.cz. "The kidnapped women were both born in 1988. One is from the Pisek district, the other from the Kladno district," said the spokesman.
The women came to Pakistan from neighboring Iran as tourists, the Baluchistan province's Interior Minister Akbar Hussain Durrani told the AFP agency on Wednesday. Durrani also said that the Pakistani police officer taken alongside the Czech women was eventually released by the gunmen, who kept his gun.
The Pakistan Times reported on Thursday 14 March that Pakistani police have sent a special team to find and rescue the tourists. This information was also confirmed by Srol. "They have sent a special police investigation team from Quetta to the spot," said Srol.
Citing the Quetta authorities' spokesman Abdal Kabdus, the AP agency said on Thursday that the kidnapped women have been taken to neighboring Afghanistan.
The women had crossed the Iranian-Pakistani border at the Taftan crossing. The ambush took place near the Nok Kundi municipality in the Chaghi district, roughly 120 kilometers from the border.
An embassy official said on phone that nobody has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping yet, and its motive remains unknown. According to Srol, nobody has demanded a ransom yet.
However, similar incidents are fairly common in the region, and they are mostly motivated by ransom.
According to the Pakistan Times, the incident took place at the exact spot where a French tourist had been kidnapped two years ago. The man was released one month later. In July 2011, a Swiss couple was kidnapped in the country and released eight months later after a ransom was paid. In January 2012, a British employee of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was kidnapped in Quetta. His decapitated body was found several months later with a note saying that he had been killed because nobody had paid the ransom.
The kidnappings in the region are usually carried out by Islamists linked to al-Qaeda and Afghanistan's Taliban, but also by local separatists or criminal gangs.