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Authorities Search for Abducted UN Official in Pakistan

  • VOA News

Authorities in Pakistan are searching for a United Nations refugee agency official after unidentified gunmen kidnapped him today (Monday) insouthwestern Pakistan.

A Pakistani police officer (Khalid Masood) says gunmen ambushed John Solecki, a U.S. citizen, and his driver in the city of Quetta as they were traveling to work.

Solecki is the head of the refugee agency's office in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province.

Police say his Pakistani driver, identified as Syed Hashim, was wounded in the attack and later died.

Pakistan's foreign ministry condemned what it called a "dastardly terrorist attack," and said all measures are being taken to ensure Solecki's safe and speedy return.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his deepest condolences to Hashim's family and called for Solecki's immediate and safe release.

No group has claimed responsibility for today's attack.


Rebels in Baluchistan usually do not target foreigners for kidnappings, although the practice is common elsewhere in Pakistan.

Earlier today, a U.N. spokeswoman in Pakistan (Ishrat Risvi) expressed shock and dismay at the killing and kidnapping, but said the U.N. remains committed to its humanitarian work.

A spokesman for the U.S. State Department (Robert Wood) did not provide details about today's incident, but said Washington will obviously be in touch with the necessary authorities.

Hundreds of people have died in violence in southwestern Pakistan since an insurgency erupted in late 2004. Rebels in the area demand political autonomy and a greater share of profits from the region's natural resources.

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