Tag Archives: Quetta

John Solecki Freed!

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed his happiness at the safe release of a United Nations staff member who was abducted in Pakistan two months ago, voicing his appreciation for the efforts of Government officials and others in securing his release.

John Solecki, who heads the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Quetta, in Balochistan province, was abducted in an attack on 2 February that also left another colleague, Syed Hashim, dead.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, the Secretary-General said that he is “grateful to all those who have tried over the past two months to help secure John Solecki’s release, and would like in particular to express his appreciation for the strong message made by Balochi leaders in support of his release, as well as efforts made by the Government of Pakistan.”

Mr. Ban also reaffirmed the UN’s continued commitment to help all Pakistani people, a dedication manifested in Mr. Solecki’s own work.

Addressing reporters following a meeting with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in Paris, he thanked President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, along with many others, for their tireless work in securing Mr. Solecki’s release.

But the Secretary-General noted that Robert Fowler, his Special Envoy for Niger, is still missing following his kidnapping last December.

“I sincerely hope that the captors, whoever they may be, should immediately, without any conditions, release him as soon as possible,” he said.

During Mr. Solecki’s captivity, the world body had expressed its concern on many occasions regarding his health, given that he suffers from multiple health conditions requiring ongoing treatment.

A group known as the Balochistan Liberation United Front claimed to be holding him, demanding the release of people it says are in Pakistani custody.

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Gunmen kidnap American U.N. official in Pakistan

Dear Kidnappers

John Solecki is a non-combatant person.  He is not the one that you are looking for.  He was doing humanitarian job and he is helping the refugees and the IDP’s.  Do not harm him, kindly released him.  You have not set your priority right – you should not kidnap personnel of humanitarian agency – they are the soft target and easy prey.  This is not Islamic at all and I demand for John’s unconditional release.

Shahrul Peshawar, Alor Setar, Malaysia

Source: Reuters Foundation

Date: 02 Feb 2009

By Gul Yousafzai

QUETTA, Pakistan, Feb 2 (Reuters) – Gunmen abducted an American official of the U.N. refugee agency in Pakistan on Monday after shooting dead his driver, the lastest in a string of attacks on foreigners in the country.

John Solecki, head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in the southwestern city of Quetta, was on his way to his office when gunmen intercepted his vehicle and opened fire, killing his driver.

“We strongly condemn this attack on humanitarian workers in Pakistan who have been doing their utmost to deliver their humanitarian mission,” the United Nations said in a statement.

There had been no claim of responsibility, said Quetta police official Wazir Khan Nasir.

Solecki’s vehicle crashed into a wall after the gunman opened fire from a car.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said the agency was doing all it could to secure Solecki’s release, and expressed sympathy to the family of the driver, Syed Hashim, who had worked for UNHCR for 18 years and leaves a wife and four children.

“The targeting of those who help the world’s most vulnerable people leaves all of us deeply shocked and saddened,” Guterres said in a statement from UNHCR headquarters in Geneva.

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry condemned what it called a “dastardly terrorist act” and said all measures were being taken for Solecki’s safe and early recovery.

Security had been stepped up at the main crossing point into Afghanistan at Chaman, 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Quetta, and at other points along the border to stop the kidnappers taking their hostage into Afghanistan, another police official said.

Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan province, which borders Afghanistan and Iran.

Both Taliban and separatist Baluch militants operate in the province where the UNHCR is helping Afghan refugees.

Incidents of kidnapping have increased in Pakistan over the past year, especially in the northwest in areas on the border with Afghanistan, where Islamist militants have abducted several foreigners.

Pakistani Taliban militants were believed to be responsible for the kidnapping of a Chinese engineer, a Polish engineer and two Afghan diplomats. All four were kidnapped in the northwest months ago and are still being held.

Gunmen shot dead an American aid official outside his home in the northwestern city of Peshawar in November. The man’s driver was also killed.

In August, a U.S. diplomat escaped unhurt when gunmen ambushed her vehicle in Peshawar.

The United Nations ordered the children of foreign staff to leave Pakistan in October after a suicide truck-bomb attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad killed 56 people, including six foreigners.

The violence poses a problem for aid groups which want to increase help to the impoverished northwest but are unable to send staff, in particular foreigners, into the area to implement and monitor projects because of security fears.

(Additional reporting by Robert Birsel in ISLAMABAD and Jonathan Lynn in GENEVA; Writing by Augustine Anthony; Editing by Paul Tait)

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26 people killed, dozens hurt as moderate intensity earthquake rattles Balochistan

QUETTA: Oct 29 (APP)- At least 26 people died and dozens other sustained injuries when a 6.1 intensity earthquake jolted most parts of northern and central Balochistan early Wednesday morning. The jerks were felt at 0430 hours and 0510 hours which demolished and damaged scores of houses in Ziarat, Quetta, Kuchlak, Pishin, Chaman, Mastung and Loralai.

In Ziarat, which is the worst affected area the district nazim Dilawar Khan Kakar confirmed death of 25 people in union council Kawas, Werchum and Kach.

He feared that the death toll could go up as land sliding reported at road links to surrounding villages.

Similarly, one 18-year old girl died while five other people would critically hurt as their poorly constructed houses failed to withstand the tremor in Khanozai, tehsil of district Pishin.

In the provincial capital, only five people were reported hurt in earthquake related incidents. Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Khan Raisani arrived at the CM Secretariat soon after the earthquake rattled the province and ordered declaration of emergency in the hospitals of the affected areas. He also ordered the provincial Disaster Management authorities to provide relief to the affected people utilizing all available resources.

SHAHRUL PESHAWAR – I’ve been once to Quetta

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