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Pakistani Gunmen Kidnap Czech Tourists In Southwest Province


QUETTA, Pakistan -- Gunmen have abducted two female Czech tourists as they were traveling on a bus through Pakistan's troubled southwestern province of Balochistan.

The women were seized on March 13 in the district of Chaghi, which borders Iran and Afghanistan.

Local government official Zafar Iqbal told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal the women were traveling from Iran on a passenger bus and had been given a guard from a local militia to escort them.

"The [bus] driver said the armed men, who were wearing [military] uniforms, stopped the bus and kidnapped the two foreign women along with their guard. Then they released the guard in the border area and took the women away," Iqbal said. "Yes, the women were coming from Iran and they had their passports. We heard that the [kidnappers] took them to the other side of the border."

Provincial Home Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani says an intensive search is under way.

A Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman, Karel Srol, confirmed the kidnapping, saying the incident took place about 120 kilometers from the Iranian border.

He said Pakistan's Interior Ministry had informed them a special investigator was on his way to the area.

Balochistan has seen a number of kidnappings blamed on Islamist militants, separatist groups, and criminals.

In July 2011, a Swiss couple was abducted in the province.

They were released eight months later in circumstances that remain unclear.

A British aid worker for the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross was kidnapped in the provincial capital, Quetta, in January 2012.

His headless body was found near the city four months later, with a note attached to it saying he was killed because no ransom was paid.

In recent weeks, the provincial prosecutor-general and a provincial assembly lawmaker were kidnapped by suspected militants.

With additional reporting by AP and dpa