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China, Pakistan Investigating Whether Slain Pair Were Illegally Preaching

A combo photo shows pictures of two Chinese nationals who were abducted in Quetta on May 24

China's Foreign Ministry says it is working with the Pakistan government to investigate reports that two Chinese citizens abducted by Islamic State (IS) militants in Quetta were illegally working as missionaries.

Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on June 14 that China wanted to protect the safety and legal rights of Chinese citizens overseas, but they must also adhere to local laws and traditions.

"As for reports that the relevant Chinese nationals were suspected of illegal missionary work in Pakistan, we will cooperate with the Pakistan government and launch an investigation," Lu said.

The pair, identified by Pakistan authorities as Lee Zing Yang, 24, and Meng Li Si, 26, were abducted by armed men pretending to be policemen on May 24 in the provincial capital of Balochistan Province.

Last week, IS's Amaq news agency said the extremist group had killed them.

The kidnapping was a rare crime against Chinese nationals in Pakistan, which has close ties to Beijing, but it has alarmed the growing Chinese community in the country.

Pakistan's Interior Ministry on June 12 alleged for the first time that the two were preachers who had abused the visa system by posing as business people to enter the country.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters