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Pakistan yet to verify Polish killing: FM

world Updated: Feb 11, 2009 11:17 IST
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Pakistan on Tuesday condemned the Taliban's purported killing of a Polish hostage as "absolutely barbaric" but insisted that the government had yet to confirm the death.

"Officially the ministry of interior has to verify that tragic incident but it seems that if that is so, it is a very tragic event," Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told a news conference in Islamabad.

"And if that is so, I would want to condole with the Polish people, the Polish government and his family," he added.

His comments follow a furious reaction from the Polish authorities, who have confirmed the execution and accused Pakistan of "apathy" after negotiators failed to save Piotr Stanczak from execution by his Taliban captors.

Qureshi said Stanczak, a geologist in Pakistan for a Polish oil and natural gas exploration company, was working to help the country's development -- making his death even more tragic.

"To do something like that is absolutely barbaric... The government of Pakistan condemns it in the strongest possible terms," Qureshi said.

On Tuesday, Poland's senate called off a visit by Pakistani senators, who had been due in Warsaw from February 12 to 14.

Poland's Justice Minister Andrzej Czuma on Monday blamed Pakistan's "apathy" towards tackling terrorism for the killing.

"We understand that they're aggrieved," Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit told AFP when asked about Czuma's comments.

Stanczak was seized in the volatile northwest of Pakistan on September 28. His abductors killed his driver and his bodyguard.

His apparent beheading on Saturday -- the first of a Pole by Islamic militants -- caused widespread shock and revulsion in his home country.

Poland has confirmed as authentic a video of the execution released Sunday by a group linked to Afghanistan's Taliban insurgency.

Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has said Poland will ask the Pakistani government to provide a written report on how it handled the failed negotiations to free the Polish hostage.