Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Captured Mercy Corps workers freed in Pakistan

Humanitarian workers are under great danger in Pakistan. World Vision pulled all of their operations from Pakistan back in March. Before that, Mercy Corps had workers abducted in Feburary. Three of the workers have now been freed, but one was killed by the captors.

From the Seattle Times blog, the Business of Giving, writer Kristi Heim tells us of the release.

"We are very happy and relieved to inform you that three members of our Pakistan team have been released after nearly five months in captivity," he wrote in a statement. "All three are unharmed and are being reunited with their families in Pakistan."

Relief mixed with grief over the death of the fourth employee, a 52-year-old driver with nine children, at the hands of the kidnappers in mid-June. The group was abducted Feb. 18 as they were driving to an office in Quetta, in the southwest.

The BBC reported that pro-Taliban gunmen had sent Mercy Corps a videotape of the employee being murdered and demanded a ransom of $1.2 million or else the remaining three would also be killed. The report quoted Dr Saeedullah Khan, head of Mercy Corps operations in Quetta, saying the Pakistani government had done little to help free the hostages.

The three employees freed are Dr. Syed Asif Abbas, 50; Iftikhar Shafiq, 34, and Beeburg Suleman, 27. The men were working with local district health officials in Balochistan province to implement health programs.

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