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Home > India > News > PTI

Pak crackdown in tribal belt to trace missing envoy

February 14, 2008 17:28 IST

Pakistani security forces on Thursday launched a crackdown against tribesmen, arresting nine of them in the Khyber Agency, after they failed to trace the country's ambassador to Afghanistan, who is believed to have been kidnapped in the region on Monday.

Ambassador Tariq Azizuddin was traveling by car from his home in the North West Frontier Province capital Peshawar to Kabul when he went missing with his driver and a security guard in the Khyber Agency.

The government convened a jirga or council of tribal elders on Wednesday and urged them to trace the envoy. As there was no progress in the search operation over the past three days, the security forces today began crackdown on the tribesmen and arrested nine of them, witnesses and TV channels reported.

The authorities defended the action, saying the tribesmen were taken into custody under the collective responsibility law as the ambassador had gone missing from a main road in their area.

Officials said the security forces would continue the crackdown and arrest more tribesmen if the envoy is not traced.

The foreign ministry has said that no group has contacted the government to claim responsibility for abducting Azizuddin, one of Pakistan's highest-ranking diplomats.
Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Sadiq said on Wednesday that the envoy was alive. The Pakistani Taliban, led by Baitullah Mehsud, has denied any role in the incident.

Many areas in the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan are strongholds of pro-Taliban militants but they have not claimed responsibility for the incident.

Two Pakistani workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross were also kidnapped in Khyber Agency earlier this month. One of them has since returned to his home in Peshawar.

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