Families of some of the six footballers, who were kidnapped in Balochistan’s Dera Bugti last week, complained on Tuesday about relevant authorities’ failure to recover the athletes despite a passage of three days.

The six football players were abducted by unknown armed men in the Kachhi canal area of Sui Tehsil of Dera Bugti district, while they were en route to Sibi to participate in the qualifying round of the All Pakistan Chief Minister Gold Cup Football tournament.

They were travelling with other members of the Dera Bugti district football team when they were kidnapped by armed men in the Jani Pedi area of Sui Tehsil.

Sources said that around 24 players were on their way to Sibi when a group of armed men intercepted their vehicle and took them away at gunpoint. However, later, kidnappers released 18 players but kept six, all of whom were from Dera Bugti and Sui areas, sources added.

Interim Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti and Balochistan’s Home Minister retired captain Zubair Ahmed Jamali took serious notice of the kidnapping and directed concerned officials to launch a search operation for the immediate recovery of the abducted footballers.

However, speaking to Dawn.com today, the fathers of two of the kidnapped athletes — whose identities are not being disclosed due to security concerns— complained about the lack of progress on the matter.

One of them criticised the district administration for not giving any assurance to the families or contacting them to share information about measures being taken for the recovery of their children.

The other one told Dawn.com that the Frontier Corps commandant had assured the families that the footballers would be recovered. “But they haven’t been found despite a passage of three days.”

Sharing his predicament, he said, “We can neither support nor oppose an operation as the footballers were still in captivity. An operation in this situation can increase the risk to our children’s lives.”

He appealed to caretaker Balochistan Chief Minister Ali Mardan Khan Domki and other officials to ensure the safe recovery of the footballers.

Meanwhile, a protest is being held in Sui over the authorities’ failure to recover the footballers for the past two days.

So far, security forces have arrested seven suspects in connection with the kidnapping incident but found no information about the athletes’ whereabouts.

While no one has claimed responsibility for the abduction and the kidnappers, too, have not contacted the families of the hostages, the interior minister claimed on Sunday the abductors belonged to the banned Baloch Republican Army.

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