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Two Westerners kidnapped in Pakistan held by Taliban | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (Reuters) – Two Western aid workers kidnapped in Pakistan in January are being held by the Pakistan Taliban near the border with Afghanistan, a senior militant commander told Reuters on Saturday.

Gunmen stormed a house in Multan in southern Punjab province on January 19 and drove away with two foreigners — one an Italian citizen and the other believed to be a German.

“The two NGO (non-governmental organisation) workers who were kidnapped in Multan nearly a month ago are in our custody near the border. We haven’t made any demands yet,” a senior commander of the Pakistan Taliban said.

“They are in good health.”

A Punjab provincial police chief said last month the foreigners were being held for ransom.

Criminal gangs often target foreign aid workers in Pakistan in hope of securing large ransoms for their release. Pakistani officials say militant groups such as the Taliban are also involved in kidnappings.

The senior commander said the Westerners were being held by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, an umbrella group of Pakistani militant factions formed in 2007 which is also allied with the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda.

In January, a Kenyan aid worker and his Pakistani driver went missing in southern Sindh province. A British doctor with the International Committee of the Red Cross was kidnapped by gunmen from the southwestern city of Quetta on January 5.

Last year, American aid worker Warren Weinstein was kidnapped from the central Pakistani city of Lahore. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for Weinstein’s abduction in December.

In July, a Swiss couple was kidnapped from the southwestern Baluchistan province by the Pakistani Taliban.

Such kidnappings in Pakistan put off long-term investors. Foreign direct investment in Pakistan fell 37 percent to $531.2 million in the second half of 2011 from $839.6 million in the final six months of 2010.