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Abducted U.N. official in Pakistan appears in video
Fri Feb 13, 2009 2:32pm EST
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By Gul Yousufzai
QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) - Kidnappers of an American working for the U.N. refugee agency in Pakistan on Friday released a video in which he pleaded for the United Nations to help win his release.
John Solecki, head of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Quetta, capital of the southwestern Baluchistan province, was snatched on February 2, after gunmen ambushed his car and shot dead his driver.
Solecki appeared blindfolded and said his message was to the United Nations.
"I am not feeling well. I am sick. I am in trouble. Please help to resolve the problem soon so I can gain my release," he said.
The video was delivered by mail to the office of a local news agency and seen by a Reuters reporter.
An unknown separatist group, Baluchistan Liberation United Front (BLUF), last week claimed responsibility for the abduction.
The video, recorded in the memory card of a cellular phone, accompanied a letter from BLUF in which they demanded the release within 72 hours of 141 ethnic Baluch women detained by Pakistani authorities.
The group said it would also shortly issue a list of male activists in government jails.
The group has not been heard of before. Its name is similar to that of the well known Baluchistan Liberation Front.
Baluchistan, the largest but poorest of Pakistan's four provinces, lies on the border with Afghanistan. Separatist militants have fought a low-scale insurgency in the province for decades.
Militants loyal to al Qaeda and the Taliban are also involved in violence in Baluchistan and the North West Frontier Province, which is also on the Afghan border.
Islamist militants last week released a tape of them cutting off the head of a Polish geologist, Piotr Stanczak, whom they had kidnapped in September.
Kidnapping is increasing. Pakistani Taliban militants were believed to be responsible for the kidnapping of a Chinese engineer, an Afghan and an Iranian diplomat kidnapped in the northwest several months ago and still being held.
Gunmen shot dead an American aid official outside his home in the northwestern city of Peshawar in November and killed his driver.
In August, a U.S. diplomat escaped unharmed when gunmen ambushed her vehicle in Peshawar. Continued...
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