Two Czech women kidnapped in Balochistan freed after two years

Published March 29, 2015
ANTONIE Chrastecka (left) and Hana Humpalova after being rescued in Turkey.—AFP
ANTONIE Chrastecka (left) and Hana Humpalova after being rescued in Turkey.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: Two Czech wom­en who were kidnapped while travelling through Balochistan two years ago have been freed thanks to the efforts of a Turkish organisation, Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH).

Following their release, Antonie Chrastecka and Hana Humpalova were first taken to the Turkish province of Van and then flown to the Czech Republic.

They have already reunited with their families, the country’s prime minister announced on Saturday.

“I am really glad to confirm that Hana Humpalova and Antonie Chrastecka... returned to the Czech Republic today in the morning,” Bohuslav Sobotka was quoted by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle as saying.

“I would like to ask the media to respect the women’s privacy,” Mr Sobotka added.

The Czech prime minister said the IHH had negotiated the release of the two women.

The Turkish organisation negotiated with the kidnappers for about two months.

The women, both born in 1988, were abducted on March 13, 2013, near Naukundi while travelling on a bus from Taftan to Quetta after crossing into Pakistan from Iran.

According to Pakistani investigators, the kidnappers were eight in number and wore Frontier Corps uniforms.

An extensive search involving intelligence agencies and law- enforcement agencies was launched, but the women could not be located. Officials of the ministry of interior kept insisting that the kidnapped women were in Afghanistan.

In two video messages posted on Facebook by the women shortly after their kidnapping they conveyed the demand of their captors for releasing Aafia Siddiqui, jailed in 2010 in the United States for 86 years on charges of terrorist links, besides asking the Czech government to help in their release.

Mr Sobotka confirmed the return home of the women.

Agencies add: Serkan Nergis, a spokesman for the IHH, said the women were captured by a group linked to Al Qaeda.

The women had been given a police guard in Balochistan to escort them on a bus, but the policeman was no match for the eight gunmen who stopped them in Chagai district. The disarmed policeman was later released.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency quoted Ms Chrastecka as saying: “I am very tired but I don’t want to sleep. I am afraid this may be a dream.”

She said the worst part of their two-year ordeal was being away from their families.

“From the first moment I was kidnapped, I wanted to be with them. I am so happy right now and so excited,” she said.

Ms Humpalova said: “When we came out, we were happy to see the sun after two years, to see happy, smiling people.

We were deprived of this. It was very hard. For the first time in our lives we saw weapons and armed men. There were weapons fired and bombs going off. But we got used to it in time. We didn’t know who was holding us, because they never told us or said why they were holding us.”

Izzet Sahin, the IHH official who led the negotiations with the kidnappers, told the agency the families of the victims had contacted the Turkish charity as a last resort after exhausting all other means to save them.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2015

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