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Taliban release video of Swiss couple abducted in Pakistan

Other News Materials 25 October 2011 15:41
The Taliban on Tuesday released a video of a Swiss couple abducted nearly four months ago in Pakistan's south-western province of Baluchistan
Taliban release video of Swiss couple abducted in Pakistan

The Taliban on Tuesday released a video of a Swiss couple abducted nearly four months ago in Pakistan's south-western province of Baluchistan, DPA reported.

Olivier David Och, 31, and Daniela Widmer, 28, were seized by gunmen on July 1 in Loralai district after entering Pakistan from India, and planning to travel on to Iran and Turkey.

"This is the announcement, a new announcement, for the Swiss government, for Pakistan government and for American government," Och said as he held a local English newspaper dated September 15.

"We are in danger here, and please let go Aafia Siddiqui from America, and so please let go the prisoners that Pakistan have from Taliban," he said in the video watched by dpa correspondent.

"Let them go because we are in tension, we have much of problem. If you do not, I think, it is the last time we can talk to this government."

Siddiqui disappeared in 2003 from Karachi and was arrested in Afghanistan in 2008 with bomb-making literature and materiel.

She was taken to the US, convicted and sentenced in 2010 to 86 years in prison for assault and intent to kill her US interrogator in Afghanistan.

She is revered by the Islamists and her conviction created a stir in Pakistan where religious organizations held protest rallies to demand her release.

The Taliban initially demanded 5 million dollars from the Swiss government, an intelligence official said.

"The Swiss government has established some indirect contacts with the Taliban and they are in negotiations, we are not part of those negotiations," said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"The Taliban have also demanded the release of 100 prisoners."

In another video in German language, the couple held a different newspaper with the same date. Widmer wore a red scarf to cover her head while four gunmen stood behind the couple. They wore masks and gloves.

The videos are more than a month old but Taliban sources confirmed on Tuesday to dpa that the couple is still alive.

Waliur Rehamn, deputy head of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella organization of more than a dozen militant outfits, said on July 29 that his organization was holding the couple.

"We have not subjected the couple to any kind of violence and we do not intend to do so, but we know that Dr Aafia was beaten up by the US while she was in their captivity," he said.

The militant leader warned that if Aafia was not released, their Islamic court will decide the fate of the Swiss. He warned that the group would not hesitate to carry out any sort of punishment, an indirect reference to the past executions of Westerners.

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