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Senior UN diplomat kidnapped in Pakistan

world Updated: Feb 03, 2009 08:51 IST
UN official kidnapped in Pakistan: police

Suspected militants on Monday kidnapped an American national working for UNHCR after killing his driver in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, highlighting the security threats posed by al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in the region.

John Solecki, the head of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees office in Balochistan province, was on his way to office when gunmen raked his car with gun fire killing his driver and forcing him out of his car, shortly after he had left his home, Quetta police chief Humayun Jogezai said.

Solecki's driver Syed Hashim Raza was hit by bullets and died in hospital. The attackers took Solecki with them at gunpoint. His Land Cruiser was found rammed into the wall of a house.

No group claimed responsibility for the abduction, which the Pakistani Foreign Office described as "dastardly and terrorist act".

Several foreigners, including senior diplomats, have been kidnapped over the recent months from Balochistan and neighbouring NWFP. These include the Afghan Ambassador- designate to Islamabad and a senior Iranian diplomat and both are yet to be traced.

Solecki's kidnapping came just months after an abortive attempt by suspected Taliban militia to abduct a senior US Embassy official from Peshawar.

Quetta is the capital of Balochistan which borders Afghanistan where al-Qaeda and Taliban are reported to have safe havens. The dusty city is also believed to be the hideout of reclusive Taliban chief Mullah Omar, who has not been sighted for months.