Chinese embassy in Pakistan verifying hostage video

Chinese embassy in Pakistan verifying hostage video
Hong Xudong allegedly shown in a video released by militants in this screenshot grabbed from the Twitter account of journalist Bashir Ahmad Gwakh.

The Chinese embassy in Pakistan is attempting to verify reports of a video purporting to show a Chinese kidnapped by Taliban-allied fighters in Pakistan a year ago asking Beijing to help secure his release. Chinese in Pakistan have been told to be on the alert, despite the security situation improving this year.

According to the video from a militant known to belong to a Taliban splinter group called Jaish al-Hadeed, or "Contingent of Steel", the man asks the Chinese government for help, The Associated Press reported.

China's embassy in Islamabad said it is contacting Pakistani authorities to verify the case, Chinese media reported on Monday.

The man in the video resembled photographs of Hong Xudong, who went missing after entering Pakistan from India by bicycle in April last year.

Hong was abducted in May in the town of Daraban on the outskirts of the Dera Ismail Khan district, which borders Pakistan's tribal regions.

Police later recovered his cycle and some of his belongings.

Wang Xu, a South Asian studies researcher at Peking University, said it was unlikely that the abductors specifically sought a Chinese victim as it is dangerous for anyone, but especially foreigners, to pass through the area on their own.

Pakistani authorities essentially ban most foreigners from traveling in Dera Ismail Khan, partly because of safety concerns. But foreign tourists continue to attempt cross-country bicycle tours, The Washington Post reported last year.

Wang said the security situation in Pakistan has improved since its army launched a massive operation in the tribal regions in June to eliminate militant groups.

Still, Chinese tourists and workers should learn more about the nation's religious, cultural and ethnic diversity, he said, adding that the resolution of such cases often takes long-term negotiations between the Pakistani government, the army and Taliban fighters.

The commander of a Taliban splinter group called Shehryar Mehsud, Abdullah Bahar, claimed responsibility for the abduction last year.

Bahar was later killed by a suspected US drone strike.

It's unclear what relationship Shehryar Mehsud has with Jaish al-Hadeed, although Taliban splinter groups frequently co-operate with each other, AP reported.

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