KARACHI: Gunmen abducted two Pakistani Christians working for a South Korean-run hospital in Karachi on Wednesday, police said.
Kidnappings by criminal groups for ransom are relatively common. Foreigners can be a particular target with five foreign aid and development workers missing or kidnapped in Pakistan since last August.
Four armed men stopped a car taking the employees to work in the western neighbourhood of Orangi, local police station chief Sabir Khan told AFP.
“They asked the occupants: ‘Who is Korean among you?’ They replied ‘none of us’,” the police officer said.
“However they snatched two hospital employees – a computer operator and an administration assistant. Both are members of the Pakistani Christian community, and fled in a car,” he said.
No foreigners were in the vehicle that was stopped, Khan said.
“We have sent teams to track down the kidnappers and recover the staff members,” he added.
The hospital is run by a South Korean charity, Khan said. Korean doctors work at the hospital and live on the premises, the policeman said.
Male nurse Austin John, a 30-year-old Pakistani, told AFP he had narrowly escaped being kidnapped along with his colleagues.
“A blue car intercepted us and four men who looked Pashtun from the northwest came out. They ordered us to get out and asked: ‘Who is Korean among you?’” he said.
Their driver fled and the three hospital staff members were bundled towards the kidnappers’ car, John said.
“But there wasn’t enough space and they dropped me. One of them said ‘shoot him in the back’ but I got unexpected courage and ran for safety behind the van and shouted for help. They fled,” he said.
The Good Samaritan Hospital treats mostly poor Pakistanis and has been run by a South Korean charity for more than a decade, one of its doctors told AFP.
Two months ago, a South Korean affiliated to a nearby church was shot and wounded, and three years ago a local employee was briefly abducted but released unharmed, the doctor told AFP by telephone. “But this is the first time that our employees have been abducted in an armed hold-up like this. There were no direct threats to the hospital but we had felt insecure over the past few months and police beefed up security.”
Ten doctors work at the Good Samaritan Hospital, six of them foreigners, and the clinic treats mostly poor Pakistanis for a nominal fee.