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Kidnappers Holding 2 Chinese in Pakistan

At about 8:00 AM local time on October 9, two Chinese engineers and their security guard were kidnapped by five gunmen near Jandala in Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal area, near the Afghanistan border.

The two Chinese hostages, Wang Ende and Wang Peng, have been working on a dam and a canal project in the area for the China National Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Group Corporation.

Pakistani troops have been searching for hundreds of Al-Qaeda-linked militants in the mountainous region.

As the kidnappers were escaping in the direction of the Afghan border, they were surrounded by approximately 30 security troops. The Pakistani military sent six helicopters to join the rescue efforts.

On Saturday evening, Malak Mirajuddin, a National Assembly member from the tribal area, began to negotiate with the kidnappers for the hostages' release on behalf of the Pakistani authorities.

The kidnappers said that they would free the hostages in return for a vehicle and guarantee of a safe escape. The security forces refused to accept this condition.

In an interview with Xinhua News Agency, Zhang Yiming, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan, said that after four hours of negotiation the two sides agreed at about 10:00 PM to disengage overnight. A tribal chieftain was entrusted to guard the three hostages and five kidnappers separately.

They also agreed that the security forces and police who had encircled the kidnappers would retreat several hundred meters, said Zhang.

The chieftain was to hold talks with Pakistani authorities on Sunday morning to find a peaceful solution.

Zhang said that the kidnappers had been identified as Afghan immigrants, but their motive in seizing the Chinese nationals remained unclear.

Xinhua reports that in a telephone interview, Kan Janping, the supervisor of the two engineers, said that the men are in good condition.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan told Xinhua that China is deeply concerned for the safety of the two Chinese engineers.

The Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan immediately contacted the Pakistani government concerning the case, urging it to take steps to locate the engineers, ensure their safety and spare no effort in rescuing them.

China also requested Pakistan to improve security to guarantee the safety of Chinese personnel working on Pakistani projects, Kong said.

In May this year, three Chinese engineers working on a deep-sea port at Gwadar, about 500 kilometers west of Karachi, were killed when an unoccupied car exploded near their bus. Nine others were injured.

(Xinhua News Agency, China.org.cn October 10, 2004)

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