Kidnapped former Afghan governor freed in Pakistan shoot-out

Kidnapped former Afghan governor freed in Pakistan shoot-out

PESHAWAR, Pakistan - A former Afghan governor kidnapped nearly two weeks ago in Pakistan's capital was freed Friday after a shoot-out with police, he told AFP, saying he could not identify the men who abducted him.

Sayed Fazlullah Wahidi said he was being transported by his kidnappers, blindfolded, when they were stopped at a police checkpoint in Mardan, near Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar.

Gunfire rang out, he said, and the three men holding him ran away.

Speaking from the Afghan consulate in Peshawar, he said he did not know who snatched him from an upscale district in Islamabad on February 12.

"The kidnappers did not talk about their demands and they did not put me in contact with my family," the former Herat provincial governor told AFP.

He said they had treated him well, adding they had not tortured him and fed him regularly.

Pakistan is in the grip of a homegrown Taliban insurgency, but the tightly-guarded capital has a low crime rate. The F-7/2 sector where Wahidi was seized is a high security area that houses politicians, bureaucrats and expats.

A senior local police official who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity confirmed police had secured Wahidi's release early Friday, but said he could give no further details about the kidnappers' identity or whether a ransom was paid.

A senior diplomat in the Afghan consulate in Peshawar, Muhammad Wali Sultani, also confirmed Wahidi was handed over to them early Friday.

Afghanistan had summoned Pakistan's ambassador to Kabul to its foreign ministry and expressed "serious concerns" over the kidnapping.

A statement from the Afghan foreign ministry Friday said it "appreciates" Pakistan's efforts in freeing Wahidi, adding it "considers co-operation on such issues between both countries as necessary".

Kabul has fraught relations with Islamabad, which it blames for sponsoring Taliban militants fighting an ongoing insurgency in Afghanistan.

Wahidi told AFP he hopes to fly to Kabul later Friday.

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