The Czech foreign ministry convened a crisis unit on Wednesday to check the authenticity of a video that turned up on the Internet and purportedly includes two-month-old footage of two women kidnapped in Pakistan in March.
The two-minute video, which only shows the Czech pair for a few
seconds before cutting to a photo montage, offers no indication of the kidnappers' identity or more recent proof of life.
Foreign ministry spokesman Karel Srol told AFP that the authenticity of the footage was being discussed by the crisis unit dealing with the abduction of the pair in Pakistan's insurgency-hit southwestern province of Baluchistan. "I'm Antonie Chrastecka. I'm Hana Humpalova," the women say in the video, both wearing head scarves and appearing unharmed. The video then cuts to alleged images of their passports with the purported voice of one of the women as the soundtrack: "Today is 16 April, after one day of Boston (Marathon) bomb blast in USA."
"Our health are in good condition but our life in risk. Thanks for all who are helping us," she says in accented and broken English. The two psychology students were kidnapped on March 13 while being escorted by a tribal policeman after crossing into Pakistan from Iran on holiday. The voice in the video pleads for the release of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, jailed in the United States on charges of terrorist links.
Images of Siddiqui appear throughout the video. "Also appealing to the international community, especially Europe and American (to) respect the right of Muslim women and the exercise of their religion and gain full civil rights," she continues. "This injustice done to Muslim women make us in this bad situation and brings Muslim hostility against us and every place." The video first appeared on Facebook, on a profile created on Sunday under the name "Orna Moshe".
Kidnappings plague parts of Baluchistan and northwest Pakistan, where criminals looking for ransoms snatch foreigners and locals, sometimes passing their hostages on to Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked groups. Czech President Milos Zeman wrote a letter to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari a few days after the abduction requesting help, but the women have not yet been located.