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Pakistan steps up efforts to free UN hostage

Pakistan on Saturday intensified efforts to free a kidnapped American UN official after his captors set a 72-hour deadline to kill him if their demands were not met.

Interior ministry chief Rehman Malik travelled to Quetta -- the capital of Pakistan's restive southwestern Baluchistan province -- to oversee efforts to secure the release of John Solecki, who was kidnapped at gunpoint on February 2.

"We are taking every step for his (Solecki's) safe recovery," Malik told reporters when he arrived at Quetta airport. He said he would meet with top provincial officials to assess the situation.

A video released by the kidnappers and shown on local television channels late Friday showed Solecki, who heads the UN refugee agency (UNHCR UNHCR n abbr (= United Nations High Commission for Refugees) → ACNUR m

UNHCR n abbr (= United Nations High Commission for Refugees) → HCR m 
) in Quetta, appealing for the kidnappers' demands to be met.

The previously unknown Baluch United Liberation Front, which claimed Solecki's abduction Abduction
Balfour, David

expecting inheritance, kidnapped by uncle. [Br. Lit.: Kidnapped]

Bertram, Henry

kidnapped at age five; taken from Scotland. [Br. Lit.
 in a telephone call to local media last week, has demanded the release of of 141 women Baluch detainees they say are in Pakistani custody.

But Malik denied any Baluch women were in custody and condemned the kidnappers as "anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam."

Solecki, whose driver was killed during the abduction, was blindfolded blind·fold  
tr.v. blind·fold·ed, blind·fold·ing, blind·folds
1. To cover the eyes of with or as if with a bandage.

2. To prevent from seeing and especially from comprehending.

 in the poor-quality video.

"This is a message to the United Nations. I am not feeling well, I am sick and in trouble. Please help solve the problems soon so I can gain my release," he said.

The United Nations has expressed deep concern over the fate of Solecki, saying he suffers from a condition that requires regular medication.

His abduction is the most high-profile Western kidnapping kidnapping, in law, the taking away of a person by force, threat, or deceit, with intent to cause him to be detained against his will. Kidnapping may be done for ransom or for political or other purposes.  in Pakistan since US journalist Daniel Pearl

For other people named Daniel Pearl, see Daniel Pearl (disambiguation).

Daniel Pearl (October 10, 1963 – February 1, 2002) was an American journalist who was kidnapped and murdered in Karachi, Pakistan.
 was snatched in 2002 and beheaded be·head  
tr.v. be·head·ed, be·head·ing, be·heads
To separate the head from; decapitate.

[Middle English biheden, from Old English beh
 by Al-Qaeda militants.

Hundreds of people have died in insurgent INSURGENT. One who is concerned in an insurrection. He differs from a rebel in this, that rebel is always understood in a bad sense, or one who unjustly opposes the constituted authorities; insurgent may be one who justly opposes the tyranny of constituted authorities.  unrest in Baluchistan since 2004, when rebels rose up demanding political autonomy and a greater share of profits in the province's rich natural resources.
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Publication:AFP South Asian Edition
Date:Feb 14, 2009
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