Related News

Home » Nation

Engineer freed in 'goodwill gesture'

PAKISTANI Taliban militants have freed a Chinese telecommunications engineer after holding him captive for more than five months, a spokesman for the militants and Chinese officials said yesterday.

Long Xiaowei had been freed as a "goodwill gesture" to the Chinese people, said Muslim Khan, a spokesman for the militants in the northwestern Swat Valley.

"He has been released. He's fine," Khan said.

The Chinese engineer was freed on Saturday and taken to the Chinese Embassy yesterday morning, said Yao Jing, deputy head of China's mission in Islamabad. Long was in good condition and expected to return to China after medical checks, China's Foreign Ministry said.

Yao said he did not know if a deal had been struck with the militants.

Long and fellow telecommunications engineer Zhang Guo, as well as a Pakistani driver and a guard, were kidnapped in August in the Dir region of northwestern Pakistan while returning to a guesthouse after working on a telecommunications tower.

They escaped in mid-October, but Long hurt his ankle and was recaptured. Zhang and the others got away.

Security has deteriorated sharply in Pakistan since August, with troops battling Islamic militants in various parts of the northwest as well as along the border with Afghanistan.

Security forces recovered Long's colleague and the two Pakistanis seven weeks later after they escaped from their captors when they were being shifted to a mountain hideout.

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon telephoned Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari late on Saturday, urging the speedy release of an American kidnapped from its refugee agency in southwestern Pakistan. Zardari told reporters that the Taliban had established itself across a large part of Pakistan, forcing the country to fight a war that was about its own survival.

John Solecki, head of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Quetta, capital of southwestern Baluchistan province, was kidnapped on February 2 after gunmen ambushed his car and shot dead his driver.

Zardari told Ban the Pakistani government was focused on finding Solecki.

Baluchistan chief minister Mohammad Aslam Raisani told reporters in Quetta yesterday that he expected a "breakthrough" soon.

The kidnappers released a video of Solecki on Friday in which he asked the UN to help secure his release.

The Taliban announced a 10-day cease-fire in Pakistan's Swat Valley yesterday after freeing Long during peace talks with the government.

Past peace deals with militants, including in Swat, have failed.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend