A group claiming to hold an American UN official in Pakistan has threatened to kill him if the government does not free more than 1,100 prisoners in four days, in a letter seen by AFP yesterday.
John Solecki, head of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, was snatched at gunpoint from the city of Quetta while traveling to work on Feb. 2.
His driver was killed during the abduction.
It was the most high-profile Western kidnapping in Pakistan since 2002, when US journalist Daniel Pearl was snatched and beheaded by al-Qaeda militants.
“This is our final deadline,” the shadowy Baluchistan Liberation United Front (BLUF) said in a letter sent to the local Online news agency.
“We will kill Solecki after the expiry of the deadline and the government institutions will be held responsible,” it said.
The agency’s local bureau chief, Irfan Saeed, told reporters they had received a telephone call on Sunday that a letter had been placed inside the wall of a government school in Quetta for release to the media.
The letter came with the names of 1,109 missing people, all ethnic Baluchs whom the BLUF claim to be in government custody.
The hand-written one-page letter in Urdu accompanies multiple sheets typed in English with the names of “missing people.” It claimed the missing Baluchs are in “torture cells.”
The kidnappers had on Feb. 16 extended until further notice an earlier 72-hour deadline for the government to meet demands for Solecki’s release.
The letter urged the UN, human rights groups and Solecki’s family to put pressure on the government of Pakistan.
The group had previously demanded information about 6,000 “missing” men and released a list of 141 Baluch women allegedly in government custody.
The commander of Pakistan’s paramilitary Frontier Corps, Major-General Saleem Nawaz, last week accused Brahamdagh Bugti, a Baluch nationalist leader who is living in Afghanistan, of masterminding the abduction.
Nawaz said he believed Solecki was “being kept somewhere in Baluchistan” and described his abduction as an “attempt to defame Pakistan.”
Henry Tong (湯偉雄) and Elaine To (杜依蘭) were preparing to spend their first wedding anniversary in separate prison cells until their acquittal for rioting during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. There were gasps and tears of relief in court on Friday last week as a judge declared prosecutors had failed to prove that the couple took part in clashes with police in July last year. The pair walked free in a ruling that has potential consequences for hundreds of other protesters facing similar charges. However, they have a long journey ahead as they try to rebuild their lives and business. “We have already been punished,”
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged