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American UN worker seized in Pakistan

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    Police seek seized American UN worker in Pakistan By ABDUL SATTAR http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hkiMxbHNH0BqgpWA2ZG6 VD6wVTmAD963J3CO7
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 6 1:06 PM
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      Police seek seized American UN worker in Pakistan
      By ABDUL SATTAR
      http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hkiMxbHNH0BqgpWA2ZG6
      VD6wVTmAD963J3CO7


      QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — Gunmen seized an American U.N. worker as he
      rode to work Monday, shooting and killing his driver, U.N. and
      Pakistani authorities said. His Land Cruiser was found rammed against
      a wall, punctured by at least one bullet hole.

      The United Nations expressed "extreme shock and dismay" at the rare
      attack in a region that has largely been spared the al-Qaida and
      Taliban insurgency wracking much of northwestern Pakistan.

      The government called the abduction of John Solecki, head of the U.N.
      refugee office in the southwestern city of Quetta, a "dastardly
      terrorist act." But police said it was not clear whether Islamist
      militants, criminals seeking a ransom payment or members of a
      regional separatist group were responsible.

      Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan province, which partly borders
      Afghanistan. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has worked for
      three decades in the region helping hundreds of thousands of Afghans
      fleeing violence in their homeland.

      Police increased patrols and security checks along roads leading to
      Afghanistan, some 60 miles (95 kilometers) away, fearing Solecki may
      be taken there.

      While a violent region, Baluchistan has largely been spared the al-
      Qaida and Taliban insurgency in northwestern Pakistan, where several
      foreigners have been attacked or kidnapped in recent months. In
      August, Lynne Tracy, the top U.S. diplomat in the northwest, narrowly
      survived an attack on her vehicle in Peshawar by suspected militants.

      In November, also in Peshawar, gunmen shot and killed American aid
      worker Stephen Vance.

      Senior police officer Khalid Masood said Solecki has worked in Quetta
      for more than two years. Ron Redmond, a UNHCR spokesman in Geneva,
      confirmed he is an American citizen.

      The United Nations expressed "extreme shock and dismay" at the
      kidnapping and the killing of the driver.

      "We strongly condemn this attack on humanitarian workers in Pakistan
      who have been doing their utmost to deliver their humanitarian
      mission," it said in a statement.

      In Washington, State Department spokesman Robert A. Wood said he
      could not confirm any details.

      "There is an investigation going on to see what happened to this
      individual," Wood said. "We obviously will be in touch with the
      necessary authorities."

      At the scene of the kidnapping in an upscale neighborhood, a UNHCR
      Land Cruiser with at least one bullet hole was rammed against a wall.
      Solecki did not have a police escort, Masood said. "We have learned
      that he usually did not like to have an escort with him on his way to
      the office."

      Soon after the attack, authorities sealed exit routes from the city,
      officers said. Police also increased patrols and security checks
      along roads leading to Afghanistan, fearing Solecki may be taken
      there.

      Quetta has been mentioned by Afghan officials as a likely hiding
      place for Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders who are thought to
      have fled Afghanistan after the U.S. invasion in 2001.

      Baluchistan is also the scene of a low-level insurgency driven by
      nationalist groups wanting more regional autonomy. They are not known
      to target foreigners.

      General crime has also been on the rise in many parts of Pakistan,
      including kidnappings for ransom. An Iranian diplomat was abducted in
      Peshawar last year, and other foreigners and Afghans have been taken.

      It was not clear whether the abduction would impact U.N. work in
      Pakistan. The bombing of Islamabad's Marriott hotel in September
      prompted new U.N. rules prohibiting expatriate staff from living with
      their children in cities including Quetta.


      Associated Press writers Asif Shahzad and Nahal Toosi in Islamabad
      and Matiullah Achakzai in Chaman contributed to this report.

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