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Senior UN official kidnapped in Pakistan

February 02, 2009 15:01 IST

Gunmen kidnapped an American national working for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, after killing his driver in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, on Monday.

John Solecki, the head of the UNHCR in Balochistan, was on his way to office when the gunmen intercepted his car shortly after he had left his home and opened fire.

His driver, Syed Hashim Raza, was hit by bullets and died in the hospital, police said. The gunmen then took Solecki with them, police said. Witnesses said the car rammed into a house after the driver was shot.

Senior officials rushed to the site of the attack as police cordoned off the area and launched a search for the UN official. A spokesperson for UNHCR said investigations into the incident were underway.

Security at the offices of UN organisations and foreign NGOs, which is already very high, was beefed up further after the incident. No group claimed responsibility for the abduction.

Militant Baloch nationalist groups and the Taliban are active in Balochistan province. Several foreigners, including senior diplomats, have been kidnapped from different parts of Pakistan over the past few months.

Afghanistan's ambassador-designate and a senior Iranian diplomat were both abducted in Peshawar and are yet to be traced. Taliban militants in Pakistan's northwest are currently holding a Polish and a Chinese engineer.

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