Taliban confirm they have Swiss hostages

By AFP
Published: July 29, 2011

Militants link their release to that of Aafia Siddiqui.

PESHAWAR: Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan on Friday said they were holding a Swiss couple kidnapped a month ago while on holiday in Balochistan.

Wali-ur Rehman, deputy head of the TTP, did not provide proof that the group had the pair but said they were in good health and demanded they be exchanged for Dr Aafia Siddiqui jailed in the US.

Olivier David Och, 31, and Daniela Widmer, 28, were abducted on July 1 while driving in Balochistan.

“The Swiss couple are with the TTP. They are at a very safe place,” Wali-ur Rehman, deputy chief of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) told AFP by telephone.

“They are completely in good health, they are getting reasonable food and they have not fallen ill since they landed in our custody.”

Rehman said the Taliban would release the couple if the US freed Aafia Siddiqui, a female neuro-scientist sentenced in 2010 for the attempted murder of US government agents in Afghanistan.

“We call upon the Western world to put pressure on America for the release of Aafia Siddiqui,” he said. “If America does not agree to her release then our shura (council) will take a decision about the Swiss hostages.”

Other Taliban sources confirmed TTP’s claim and added that the hostages were now being held in South Waziristan.

The Swiss Foreign Ministry told AFP it had “taken note” of the media reports but said it would not comment on the information.

It reiterated that authorities are “continuing with their efforts to bring the two Swiss citizens back safely to Switzerland”.

Previous kidnappings in Pakistan have also been followed by a demand for Siddiqui’s release, without effect. Rehman said the group had not issued a ransom demand.

Siddiqui, dubbed “Lady Qaeda” by US tabloids, was jailed for 86 years in 2010 after being found guilty of grabbing a rifle at an Afghan police station where she was being interrogated and opening fire on servicemen and FBI agents.

She missed and in a struggle was herself shot by one of the US soldiers.

The jailing of Siddiqui, a highly-trained scientist who was missing for five years before the shooting, sparked mass protests in Pakistan and the government vowed to fight to free her.

The Swiss couple’s blue Volkswagen van was found abandoned after they were snatched in Loralai district, around 170 kilometres east of Quetta.

According to visas stamped in their passports, they arrived in Pakistan from India on June 28.

The pair entered Balochistan from Punjab and may have been heading for Quetta, possibly en route to Iran, officials in Islamabad have said.

Switzerland has advised against non-essential travel to Pakistan since 2008, citing risks including the threat of kidnapping.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th,  2011.

Reader Comments (13)

  • Jul 29, 2011 - 8:31PM

    Atlast, it is now confirmed that Aafia Siddiqui represented Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. We cannot fool all the people all the time. Kidnapping tourists and demanding release of criminals or money is the habit of TTP. Of course, no leader of any political party including Imran Khan will condemn this.

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  • Cautious
    Jul 29, 2011 - 8:34PM

    Does the term “FAT CHANCE” mean anything in Pakistan. Will be a cold day in hell before the USA turns loose a convicted felon in a hostage exchange with the Taliban.

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  • bhai
    Jul 29, 2011 - 9:01PM

    ..innocents kidnapped for ransom or whatever…shame on them!Recommend

  • Jawad U Rehman
    Jul 29, 2011 - 9:15PM

    Events like this will continue to happen as long we allow any territory in Pakistan which is controlled by ANY Taliban/Alqaeda (pro or against government). Sooner or later we will antagonize even friendly and neutral countries, and the pariah-ization of Pakistan will be complete. Why dont the military strategists get this: the people who attack our GHQ, Military Installations, kill 35000+ Pakistanis, attack, kill and kidnap foreign visitors and players, bomb our mosques, schools, funerals, shrines, markets – these barbarians cannot be ever good for Pakistan. Just because a faction hasn’t turned their guns on us is NO reason to tolerate them inside our borders. It is a matter of time before they will cause an international event (like Mumbai/Inda, Jundullah/Iran, Polish Engineer, Barcelona plot, Kabul attacks, Faisal Shahzad/US, Sri Lankan team attack) – and the whole world will shun us. All these barabarians are interconnnected.

    And wasn’t South Waziristan supposed to have been ‘cleared’ of the Taliban?

    .

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  • Hypervan
    Jul 29, 2011 - 9:45PM

    The jailing of Siddiqui, a highly-trained scientist who was missing for five years before the shooting, sparked mass protests in Pakistan and the government vowed to fight to free her.Has the Govt. got to do something with this incident?

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  • Jul 29, 2011 - 10:37PM

    Vienna,29-07-2011
    Why Switzerland, I also join in putting pressure on the United States of America
    for the unconditional release of Dr.Aafia Siddiqui, the mother of three kids.Now it
    is up to Tehriq E Taliban Pakistan to release ” Swiss Tourists” from their safe and
    luxurious accommodation.
    –Kulamarva Balakrishna

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  • Bangash
    Jul 30, 2011 - 12:44AM

    According to Mullahs, this is all linked with US presence in the region. As soon as US leaves the region, the Swiss couple will be released, as will Aafia and cows will also fly.

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  • Salman Arshad
    Jul 30, 2011 - 1:45AM

    We all know the Taliban are behaving like “kidnappers” because of the drone attacks.

    Stop maligning Muslims!

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  • Strigon
    Jul 30, 2011 - 7:26AM

    Ehh Pakistan isn’t really a good tourism spot for the time being. Foreigners should best avoid it or hire personal security if they have some work to do in the area. Thanks to Taliban, world thinks of whole Pakistan as hostile.

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  • Jul 30, 2011 - 8:13AM

    They need a new strategist. Nobody is going to trust the word of TTP, especially not the US. They release videos of executions and overkill on corpses but there’s no video of the tourists alive and well. As cold as it may be, chances are, without some proof those hostages are probably going to be looked at as if they’re already dead due to the group it is. Regardless of that, the US will never enter into a deal with them or give them an inch in any way, shape or form. The conditions are surrender or death and they probably will be right up until the very end. Otherwise it’s certain homeland political suicide. Kidnapping people to make threats is far from the most extreme measures they’ve taken to try and get what they want. It’s not going to suddenly start working now. They do have a pretty significant humanitarian soft spot but, they aren’t idiots who are easily manipulated. It’s also not going to antagonize the US. It’s an attack on the Swiss. At best they’ve just gained some new enemies. Also, if you even want to have a slight shot at success with such a thing, you kidnap US citizens. Not the Swiss. Even then, I doubt anyone would truly believe they’d be returned alive. It’s reasonable to believe the US cares about the Swiss hostages as it’s a common human reaction to such things. But, acting as though the Swiss are some kind of mute player without a backbone and feel US involvement in the situation as being appropriate and a first choice is a little presumptuous and even a little bit of an insult. Without a direct request, there are only two countries that have responsibility to react by default. That’s Switzerland and Pakistan. The US doesn’t come into the equation unless one or the other, or both directly want them involved.

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  • Truth Prevails
    Jul 30, 2011 - 8:14PM

    @subhan basha:
    according to your logic every one except secular represent Taliban. 5% of people who have contaminated this country with their filth filled desires must be brought to justice. And their extermination is the justice that is needed the most. Recommend

  • TTP
    Jul 30, 2011 - 8:17PM

    @Bangash:
    And you will …. :)

    u know what

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  • Jul 30, 2011 - 9:50PM

    dear MH

    it is better for the hostages that US should not interfere in this episode as otherwise their lives will be put in more dangerous situation, if at all they still living.

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