Kidnapped Czechs’ video demands release of Dr Aafia
PRAGUE: A video message on Wednesday purporting to show two Czech women hostages in Pakistan demanded the release of a Pakistani national jailed in the United States in return for their freedom.
Antonie Chrastecka and Hana Humpalova, both 24, were kidnapped in March. They speak in the video message, against a background of photographs of Aafia Siddiqui, a neuroscientist who was given an 86-year sentence by a US court in 2010 for shooting at FBI agents and soldiers in Afghanistan
The sentence was upheld by an appeals court last year. “We appeal to our families and our president and all Czech people and the European Union to make every effort for cooperation,” Humpalova reads in the video, saying it was shot on April 16, a day after the Boston Marathon bombings. “Our health is in good condition but our life in risk.”
The video also showed close-ups of the two women’s passports and a sign saying: “Our Demand is only: release Dr. Aafia.”
It made no mention of the identity of the kidnappers.
Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the video. The Czech foreign ministry said it was analysing the tape. “We are concerned about their health and safety,” the ministry said. “We demand their immediate release and support all efforts of both their families in this direction.” Czech television station TV Nova said it was given the video by a person calling herself Orna Moshe. It was also posted on a Facebook page which was set up under that name on Sunday. The two women were kidnapped in the southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan, near the Afghan border. There had been no news on their fate since they disappeared and no group claimed responsibility for the abduction.
Meanwhile in Pakistan, Chief Minister Balochistan, Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch said that efforts were being made to ensure the safe and sound recovery of the two hostages. A Czech delegation had called on the Chief Minister and demanded the government to expedite the endeavor for the recovery, therefore Dr. Baloch directed all law enforcement agencies to double their efforts.
Home Secretary Balochistan, Akbar Hussain Durrani informed the delegation that different teams had been formed and dispatched in the mountainous area to trace the abducted women. He said that law enforcement agencies were also in close coordination with tribal elders of the area to help in the process.