Tuesday February 27, 2024

Two Chinese kidnapped from Quetta

By our correspondents
May 25, 2017

Abductees were studying Urdu at local language centre; passer-by shot as he tried to question armed men who were pretending as policemen; no group has claimed responsibility so far; miscreant killed in Kalat raid; schoolteacher shot dead in Turbat

QUETTA: Two Chinese working in Pakistan were kidnapped by armed men pretending to be policemen around midday on Wednesday.

"A Chinese couple was kidnapped from the neighbourhood of Jinnah Town in Quetta today," senior local police official Aitzaz Goraya told AFP. "They were dragged into a vehicle without number plates by three unknown men," he said. One Chinese woman managed to escape as the men began firing in the air to scare off onlookers.

A passer-by, Muhammad Zahir, was shot as he tried to prevent the abduction. He told AFP he saw three men forcing a Chinese woman into a white car but she was resisting and crying.

"I stopped to observe the situation but they had forced the woman in the car by then and were pushing the man. So I rushed to them and asked what they were doing. One of them said, ‘We are from the Crime Branch of the police and we are taking them for investigation’ and I told them that they should not misbehave with people. Then the driver came out and shot me in my leg," the 35-year-old said.  Chinese state media confirmed the kidnapping, while deputy chief of mission in Islamabad Zhao Lijian said the embassy was working towards their release.

He said the pair had been studying Urdu at a language centre. Local police had earlier said they were teaching Chinese.  Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar, a Balochistan government spokesman, said, "A Chinese couple has been kidnapped," Kakar told Reuters, adding that officials had earlier mistaken the wounded passer-by for a security guard. "(The passer-by) inquired why they were doing this and they said they were from a law enforcement agency, but when he asked for their identification cards, they shot him," added Kakar.

No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, but in the past militant groups have kidnapped foreigners in Pakistan to seek ransom or drum up publicity for their cause. The Quetta police chief said the couple did not work on the Beijing-funded China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and therefore they did not have guards. Another Chinese woman narrowly evaded the kidnappers, he added.

Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Khan Zehri strongly condemned the kidnapping and ordered the provincial police chief to take all measures for their recovery as soon as possible.  He also directed to the relevant authorities to extend help to security forces for ensuring protection of foreigners in their respective areas of Balochistan.

On the other hand, an alleged miscreant was killed and his accomplice captured during a raid in Kalat district.

According to law enforcement agencies sources, the raid was carried out on a tip-off in a compound during which exchange of fire with miscreants also took place. Three law enforcers and the arrested miscreant sustained injuries. Identity of the dead and arrested miscreant could not be ascertained.  Separately, unidentified gunmen shot dead a schoolteacher in Turbat. The victim was identified as Shaukat Ali.