A graphic video delivered to The Associated Press (AP) on Sunday appeared to show the execution of a Polish engineer by Pakistani militants who had held him captive for more than four months.
Pakistan has seen a rash of kidnappings and attacks on foreigners in recent months, mostly blamed on al-Qaeda and Taliban militants trying to destabilize the secular government and punish it for supporting the US-led war in Afghanistan.
An UN worker from the US was abducted last week in the border town of Quetta in southwestern Pakistan. Police said on Sunday they were investigating a purported separatist group’s claim of responsibility.
The seven-minute execution video appeared to show Polish hostage Piotr Stanczak sitting on the floor flanked by two masked men. Off camera, a militant briefly engages him in conversation before three others behead him. One of the hooded men then addresses the camera, blaming Pakistan for the execution for not agreeing to their demands to release Taliban prisoners.
If confirmed, Stanczak’s death would appear to be the first killing of a Western hostage in Pakistan since US journalist Daniel Pearl was beheaded in 2002.
The video was given to a reporter in northwest Pakistan on a flash drive by an intermediary who said he obtained it from the Taliban.
The AP has elected not to distribute images from the execution itself.
It was unclear whether it was given to other media outlets.
Pakistani Interior Ministry spokesman Shahidullah Baig said the government had “heard about” the existence of the video and was investigating.
Piotr Adamkiewicz, a spokesman at the Polish embassy in Islamabad, said the mission had seen some images from the video. He said it appeared to show the Polish hostage being killed.
“We are thinking that this is [Stanczak], but we have to wait to receive the full tape,” he said.
A spokesman for the Taliban in northwestern Pakistan said on Saturday they killed Stanczak because the government missed a deadline to release 26 prisoners.
Armed men pulled Stanczak from his car on Sept. 28 after killing three Pakistanis traveling with him near the city of Attock.
Stanczak was surveying oil and gas fields for Geofizyka Krakow, a Polish geophysics institute. The institute said on its Web site that it was carrying out surveying work in Pakistan on behalf of the Oil & Gas Development Co Ltd, or OGDCL, a Pakistani oil corporation.
It said it suspended its work after the abduction.
John Solecki, a UN official from the US, was seized on Feb. 2 in Baluchistan Province as he traveled to work at the offices of the UN refugee agency. His driver was shot to death.
Quetta chief investigator Wazir Khan Nasir said a previously unknown ethnic Baluch separatist group called the Baluchistan Liberation United Front telephoned a journalist on Saturday to claim responsibility. He did not say what the group’s demands were.
“We are vigorously looking into the matter,” Nasir said.
Pakistan-based Online International News Network quoted a spokesman for the front as saying Solecki was kidnapped to highlight the Baluch campaign for independence. The group has demanded the release of 141 Baluch women allegedly detained by Pakistani authorities and that the UN “solve the issue of Baluchistan under the Geneva Convention,” he said.
He said it was the front’s first kidnapping but warned of others if the demands were not met.
Elsewhere in the northwest early yesterday, a suicide bomber rammed his truck into a security checkpoint, wounding 17 people in the explosion, police said.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread