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Swiss couple kidnapped in Baluchistan by Pakistani Taliban ‘escape’

A Swiss couple kidnapped in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan by Pakistani Taliban militants last July has escaped, according to media reports.

Reuters reported that Olivier David Och, 31, and Daniela Widmer, 29 — Swiss tourists who were reportedly traveling by car through the restive area when abducted at gunpoint — showed up at a military checkpoint on a main road in northwest Pakistan on Thursday.

Pakistan army spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas told Reuters: “They escaped, this is what they have told us. They reported to our checkpost then. They are being questioned at the moment in Peshawar.”

Initial Pakistani media reports suggested that the couple had been freed by the Taliban.

Military officials said the two were found on a main road near a military checkpoint in North Waziristan, in the tribal region where they had been held captive.

The Taliban had released a video in October featuring the couple saying that their lives were at risk if the militant group’s demands were not met, the LA Times reported.

The demands included the release of Taliban members being held by Pakistani authorities, and the release from US custody of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman sentenced by an American court to 86 years in prison for trying to kill Americans in Afghanistan.

A Pakistani security official told the LA Times that the couple was in good health.

The New York Times quoted Abbas, the army spokesman, as saying: “They are in the custody of the security agencies.”

According to another report, they had been sent to the city of Peshawar by helicopter.

According to Reuters, kidnapping for ransom is common in Pakistan, although foreigners are not often targets. 

The NY Times wrote that kidnapping had “become a major source of revenue and propaganda for the Pakistani Taliban and associated militant factions based in North and South Waziristan.”

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