Missing Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan in Taliban captivity

April 19th, 2008 - 8:24 pm ICT by admin  

(Lead, changing dateline)
Islamabad, April 19 (DPA) Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan Tariq Azizuddin, who went missing around nine weeks ago in the country’s restive tribal region, is being held by Taliban and authorities are in contact with the militants to seek his release, an official said Saturday. Dubai-based al-Arabia television aired a video Saturday, which showed Azizuddin in Taliban captivity.

“We are in touch with the mediators who are trying to secure the release of the ambassador,” Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman Mohammed Sadiq told DPA.

“It is the top priority of the government that he should return to his family as soon as possible,” he added.

Azizuddin, his driver and a bodyguard went missing in the tribal district of Khyber Agency when they were travelling by road from the Pakistani city of Peshawar to the Afghan capital of Kabul Feb 11.

“We were kidnapped by Mujahideen from Taliban,” he said in the video, while urging the Pakistani government to meet the demands of the kidnappers.

It was not immediately clear what demands the Taliban were making, but some media reports have indicated that they want the release of one of their leaders who is being held by the Pakistani authorities.

The spokesman also refused to give the details of the talks with militants.

“I am sorry but the life of our colleague is more important to us and there is certain information we are not in position to make public,” Sadiq said.

Pakistan’s tribal areas are safe havens for Taliban fighters and Al Qaeda terrorists who fled to the area after US invaded Afghanistan in 2001.

They were initially launching cross border attacks on NATO-led international forces into Afghanistan, but turned inside when Pakistan deployed more than 90,000 troops in the region to contain their activities.

More than 1,000 security personnel and hundreds of civilians have been killed in last 13 months in attacks by militants around Pakistan.

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