News24

Pakistani Taliban release Swiss couple

2012-03-15 11:15

Miranshah - A Swiss couple kidnapped by the Pakistani Taliban last July has been released and left at a military checkpoint on a main road in northwest Pakistan, military and intelligence officials said on Thursday.

Pakistani media identified the pair as Olivier David Och, aged 31, and Daniela Widmer, aged 29. They were kidnapped in Pakistan's southwestern province of Baluchistan and had been held by the Taliban in the North Waziristan region on the Afghan border.

"They were handed over to military officials in North Waziristan this morning and have been airlifted to a secure location," one military official said.

However, one Pakistan Taliban commander denied that the two were free.

"The Swiss couple is still with us. If the couple is with the government, they should release a video," Maulvi Sabir, a Pakistani Taliban commander, said by telephone from an undisclosed location.

A Swiss embassy official said the embassy was not in a position to confirm or deny the reports.

According to intelligence sources in North Waziristan, the two were left at a military checkpoint on a main road in Miranshah, the region's main town, and were then sent to the city of Peshawar by helicopter.

Pakistan's Taliban had claimed responsibility for kidnapping the couple, who were seized in the Loralai district of Baluchistan province on July 1.

Kidnapping for ransom is relatively common in Pakistan, although foreigners are not often targets. Militants also occasionally take foreigners hostage.