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Archive for Sunday, April 5, 2009

Kidnapped American U.N. worker freed in Pakistan

April 5, 2009

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— An American U.N. worker abducted more than two months ago turned up unharmed Saturday, lying alongside a road in western Pakistan with his hands and feet bound and pleading “help me, help me,” the man who found him said.

John Solecki was discovered Saturday evening abandoned in a village some 30 miles south of Quetta near the Afghan border after his captors called a local news agency to tell them where to look, officials said. At one point, the kidnappers had threatened to behead him.

Mohammed Anwar, the owner of a restaurant alongside the main Quetta-Karachi highway, told The Associated Press that he found a bound Solecki lying in the dirt near a wall. Anwar said he heard a voice in the gloom saying “help me, help me” in English.

Police and U.N. officials declined to discuss what led to his release. U.N. spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis says John Solecki left the country on a special medical flight early this morning after spending the night in a military hospital in the southern city of Quetta.

Solecki’s abduction and the killing of his driver on Feb. 2 in Quetta raised concern that he was another victim in a spate of attacks on foreigners blamed on Islamist militants operating along the Afghan frontier.

The release was a rare piece of good news amid intensifying violence here that has raised international alarm over the nuclear-armed country’s stability. On Saturday, a suicide bomber attacked a paramilitary base in the capital, killing at least eight.

An additional four members of the paramilitary Frontier Constabulary, many of whose members are assigned to guard foreign embassies and VIPs in the city, were wounded, senior police official Bin Yamin said.

The blast was the second in Islamabad in two weeks and follows a militant assault on a police academy in Lahore.

On Saturday, a suspected U.S. missile strike on an alleged militant hideout in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region killed 13, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

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