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Two Chinese engineers kidnapped in Pakistan
Updated: 2004-10-09 15:20

Two Chinese engineers working at a hydro-electric project in Pakistan have been kidnapped in a region where security forces have been hunting militants linked to al Qaeda, officials said on Saturday.

The rescue work was underway, said a senior Chinese diplomat.

"Yes, I confirm, two Chinese have been kidnapped, along with two Pakistani security personnel," earlier report quote Pakistani Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed as saying.

He said the two Chinese had been working on the Gomal Zam Dam project, which is close to the South Waziristan tribal region, the scene of fierce fighting since March between security forces and al Qaeda-linked militants.

Ma Changlin, economic and commercial counselor of the Chinese Embassy to Pakistan, said that the engineers, named Wang Ende and Wang Peng, and their security guard were kidnapped by five unidentified gunmen around 8:00 a.m. (0300GMT) in the morning.

The incident occurred when the three were traveling to the project in the tribal area, about 30 kilometers west of Tank in the North West Frontier province. Their vehicle was abandoned empty by the road for the tyres were punctured, Ma said.

The men left work at around 6 a.m. (1300 GMT) on Friday and their abandoned vehicle was found in Tormandi, in nearby South Waziristan, a provincial government official said. He added that one police officer was missing.

The kidnappers and their victims were going on the Jandola and Wana road and dozens of Pakistani Frontier Corps were following them in an effort to release the hostages.

South Waziristan has been the scene of fierce battles between al Qaeda-linked foreign militants and security forces in which hundreds of people have died.

The semi-autonomous tribal region bordering Afghanistan has also long been notorious for kidnappings for ransom.

In May, three Chinese technicians working on a deep sea port construction project were killed and nine wounded in a car bomb attack in the southern Pakistani city of Gawadar.

China is a traditional ally of Pakistan, supplying it with hundreds of millions of dollars in financing for development projects.

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