SWAT/ISLAMABAD, Feb 15: Militants have set free a Chinese engineer they had kidnapped six months ago from Lower Dir.

Long Xiaowei, who worked for a Chinese mobile phone company, was handed over to officials in Shamozai area of Bari Kot subdivision of Swat on Saturday evening and he was immediately taken to Islamabad where the Chinese Embassy confirmed his release.

Press officer of the embassy Li Ming said on late Saturday night that Mr Xiaowei had safely arrived and he would go to China soon.

The embassy thanked the government for its efforts to get Mr Xiaowei released.

Sources told Dawn in Peshawar that Mr Xiaowei had been released on payment of a huge amount of money as ransom, but militants’ spokesman Muslim Khan said in Swat that the engineer had been freed as a goodwill gesture.

Mr Xiaowei was in good health when he was handed over to officials in presence of negotiators, the sources said.

Mr Xiaowei and his colleague Zhang Guo were kidnapped on Aug 29 last year from Khal area of Lower Dir where they were inspecting a telecommunication tower.

Mr Guo, however, managed to escape in October when security forces launched an offensive in Swat.

He was helped by a local man named Liaquat Ali who was later shot dead by militants.

Meanwhile, security forces heavily bombed Nangolai, Bara Bandai and Kanju areas. Helicopter gunships attacked suspected positions in Takhta Band on Sunday. Several houses also came under attack.

On Saturday night a man was gunned down in Banr and a government school for boys was blown up in Charbagh.

The number of schools destroyed or damaged by mili-tants in Swat has now reached 191, including 122 schools for girls.

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