Swiss hostages recovered in Pakistan: Army

Published: March 15, 2012
Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas says couple safe and sound, shifted to Peshawar. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas says couple safe and sound, shifted to Peshawar. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas says couple safe and sound, shifted to Peshawar. PHOTO: AFP/FILE Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas says couple safe and sound, shifted to Peshawar. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

ISLAMABAD: A Swiss couple held captive by the Pakistani Taliban for over eight months were on Thursday recovered safely, claiming they escaped their captors in the lawless tribal belt, the army said.

“They told us that they escaped and then they reported to our checkpost. That’s what they told intelligence agencies currently debriefing them in Peshawar,” spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told AFP.

Olivier David Och, 31, and Daniela Widmer, 28, were abducted on July 1, 2011.

Their blue Volkswagen van was found abandoned in Loralai district, around 170 kilometres east of Quetta.

“They are safe and sound. We shifted them to Peshawar,” spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told AFP.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed the abduction in July, demanding that they be exchanged for Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuro-scientist sentenced in 2010 in New York for the attempted murder of US government agents in Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials speaking to AFP could not say whether the couple was released in exchange for a ransom or any acceptance of demands from the Pakistani Taliban, which is linked to al Qaeda.

The Swiss embassy refused to comment when contacted by AFP.

In October, a video emerged of the couple — apparently in relatively good health — flanked by four masked gunmen pointing rifles at their heads.

Pakistani officials said the Taliban released the couple in Spilga village in North Waziristan, the strongold of Taliban and al Qaeda.

“They were found near a check post on the main road early in the morning,” one Pakistani security official told AFP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Another intelligence official said the Swiss were then flown by helicopter to Peshawar.

Waliur Rehman, deputy head of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, had claimed the kidnapping, telling AFP in July that they were in “a very safe place” and that they were “completely in good health”.

According to visas stamped in their passports, the Swiss couple 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.

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Reader Comments (23)

  • Afghan Karachite
    Mar 15, 2012 - 11:25AM

    Aafia has not been released yet. Which means the couple may have been released in exchange with Benjamin Franklin(s).


  • MarkH
    Mar 15, 2012 - 11:26AM

    Without trying to overlook the positive aspects I still have to wonder what compelled them to release them. It seems random, though I know it’s not. I’m pretty sure neither the US or Pakistan met the demands. I have no idea if Switzerland would or wouldn’t but I have to assume they didn’t either as the Taliban would advertise it if anyone did. I can’t see them missing the chance to brag and boost morale.
    I doubt I’ll find the answer, though.


  • John B
    Mar 15, 2012 - 11:40AM

    So, kidnappers now what happened? Now, drones are coming and you are targeted. Good luck.


  • Ali Syed
    Mar 15, 2012 - 12:00PM

    Good work Taliban.>!!!< thank you


  • Mahmood
    Mar 15, 2012 - 12:08PM

    This news brings great relief! Hopefully the both of them will be re-united with their families soon.


  • Hamad
    Mar 15, 2012 - 12:40PM

    Ajmal Khan, Vice Chancellor of the Islaimia College University and a close relative of ANP chief Asfandiyar Wali, who is in the Taliban custody, claimed in a recently released video that government has agreed to release 200 militants in exchange for the Swiss couple but is not ready to release four militants in exchange for his release.


  • Senman
    Mar 15, 2012 - 12:55PM

    Why did the tourists went there? don’t they given advice on safety spots when entering Pakistan?


  • Afghan Karachite
    Mar 15, 2012 - 1:33PM

    @ Mahmood:

    Oh, does it? How about the fact that they succeeded in receiving enough amount of $ to buy a new stock of Ammonium Nitrate and make enough Tri-Nitro Toluene (TNT) to be used in their fresh spring offences?


  • Ahmed HM
    Mar 15, 2012 - 1:47PM

    Good to see them alive ! I hope they are sent safely to their countries asap.


  • Mar 15, 2012 - 3:31PM

    Thanks God they left them alive


  • Umer
    Mar 15, 2012 - 3:59PM

    whatever happened to the blue volkswagen? The Talebans must be having a joyride in it…


  • Mar 15, 2012 - 4:27PM

    Lets be clear…we donot need silly tourists in our land…defiling it…
    We r not like India depending on tourism money…Allah has given us enough riches and we should protect it from crappy tourists from unfriendly nations…throw them to IndiaRecommend

  • Mar 15, 2012 - 4:41PM

    Praying for the recovery of Shahbaz Taseer. It’s heartening to see this Swiss couple recovered safely.


  • sars
    Mar 15, 2012 - 5:13PM

    @Aqeel Ahmed:
    true enough we have enough silly people of our own. Werent we a people once known for our hospitality though?


  • Lobster
    Mar 15, 2012 - 5:34PM

    @Aqeel Ahmed:
    Instead of accepting responisibity of securing them, you are blaming them? Recommend

  • Confused NJ
    Mar 15, 2012 - 7:50PM

    @Aqeel Ahmed:
    What planet are you living on and what riches are you talking about. Just by believing that you live in a rich country does not make it happen. These tourists had a right to pass through Pakistan to Iran and they had valid visas issued by our very rich country.


  • Anne
    Mar 15, 2012 - 8:34PM

    @Aqeel Ahmed:
    Fortunately in all my years as a “silly” foreigner in Pakistan I have never met anyone like you.
    Are you REALLY, REALLY sure you are Pakistani???? Just asking, as Pakistanis are very friendly and hospitable people.

    By the way, do you even know where Switzerland is? Hadn’t even thought of Switzerland being an unfriendly nation until I read your comment!

    All this said, I am very happy that the Swiss couple is safe and sound and will hopefully be able to return home soon.


  • zullu
    Mar 15, 2012 - 9:10PM

    what they were doing in a blue VW in almost a lawless region…….Adventure they wanted and Adventure they got………but i doubt they escaped…..Swiss must have paid hefty ransom !
    This is how the Taliban finance there holy War…….crooks and criminals united called TTP in the name of religion….


  • j. von hettlingen
    Mar 15, 2012 - 10:50PM

    The Swiss public doesn’t seem to be sympathetic towards the couple and said the two have themselves to blame for their ordeal. Maybe they should stay with the Taliban rather than returning home to face their callous fellow citizens.


  • j. von hettlingen
    Mar 15, 2012 - 10:58PM

    If you are a tourist in Switzerland and spend generously or a rich foreigner willing to pay tax, then the Swiss are friendly. By the way, where’s the baby? The Swiss media alleged Daniela Widmer had delivered a baby during her captitivity!


  • Meekal Ahmed
    Mar 16, 2012 - 1:05AM

    It makes you wonder why good-intentioned people would even want to come to Pakistan.

    Oh, I forgot — they are CIA spies!


  • Awais Ch
    Mar 16, 2012 - 2:16AM

    @Swiss coupl
    want anymore adventure? its Pakistan not switzerland.


  • Mar 16, 2012 - 1:37PM

    @Anne, am more pakistani than anybody on this site…its people like us and our Takmeel e Pakistan movement that keeps this country going in such tough times

    I hv every reason to beleive these two ‘tourists’ were western/israeli spies…do u hv proof they were not…if yes thn speak else leave us Pakistanis alone….

    And never question someone’s love for their fatherland and Allah…did i ask how true Swiss u are?Recommend

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