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Czech Women Kidnapped In Pakistan In 2013 Are Freed

  • RFE/RL

Antonie Chrastecka is seen in Turkey after her release. "I am very tired, but I don't want to sleep. I am afraid this may be a dream," she said.

Antonie Chrastecka is seen in Turkey after her release. "I am very tired, but I don't want to sleep. I am afraid this may be a dream," she said.

Two Czech women kidnapped in Pakistan in 2013 have been freed and are back home in the Czech Republic.

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told the CT24 news channel on March 28 that Hana Humpalova and Antonie Chrastecka were already in the Czech Republic, though their location was not immediately disclosed.

"I am really glad to confirm that Hana Humpalova and Antonie Chrastecka returned back to the Czech Republic today in the morning," Sobotka said in a statement on March 28.

Sobotka said the release was negotiated by the Turkish humanitarian nongovernmental organization IHH.

Humpalova and Chrastecka were taken hostage by gunmen in Pakistan's southern Balochistan region on March 13, 2013. The two -- both 24 at the time -- were traveling from Iran to Pakistan by bus.

Kidnappings plague parts of Balochistan, where criminals seeking ransoms snatch foreigners and pass them on to Taliban- and Al-Qaeda-linked groups.

'This May Be A Dream'

"I am very tired, but I don't want to sleep. I am afraid this may be a dream," Chrastecka told Turkey's state-run Anadolu new agency before flying home.

Hana Humpalova said she was happy to finally see the sun after two years in captivity.

Hana Humpalova said she was happy to finally see the sun after two years in captivity.

Humpalova said that when the two were released they were finally able to see the sun after two years, and "to see happy, smiling people." She said the two were deprived of this during their captivity.

AP quotes Serkan Nergis, a spokesman for IHH, as saying the women's families had contacted his group two months ago, seeking help after their efforts to secure the women's release had failed.

Hana Humpalova (left) and Antonie Chrastecka in undated file photos

Hana Humpalova (left) and Antonie Chrastecka in undated file photos

Another IHH official, Izzet Sahin, spoke to RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal about how the organization came to be involved in the release.

Sahin said his group has a humanitarian-diplomacy department that deals with different parties in conflict regions to help free kidnap victims or prisoners of war.

"When we received a request from the families of the two Czech [women]," he said, "we started [working] through the ways that we use for all the different parties. After the negotiations, we safely received [the women] and sent them to their families."

Sahin said there are many similar cases that the group is currently involved with.

"There are tens of other kidnapped [victims] from different countries in different regions. We are working on them."

He added that the group cannot share details on how they worked to free the women because it could negatively influence other cases they are following.

Facebook Videos

Two videos of the Czech women were posted on Facebook while they were being held.

In the first video, in June 2014, Humpalova and Chrastecka said they were in good health but that their lives were in danger.

In the second video, in late October 2014, they pleaded for the Czech government to help gain their release, saying their health was deteriorating.

Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said that psychologists and other experts examined the girls after their arrival in the country.

He said it's in everyone's interest to help the women cope with their transition.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and CTK
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