Pakistan: Italian aid worker kidnapped in Pakistan. Demand for ransom likely

world | Jan 20, 2012 | By Asia News

Multan - Two aid workers from the German NGO Welt Hunger Hilfe (World Hunger Aid) were kidnapped in Qasim Bela, in the district of Multan, in the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by three armed men. John Lo Porto, 36, a Sicilian, was with a co-worker named Bernd Johannes, Dutch, 45 in the NGO office in southern Punjab where they were working in reconstruction after the disastrous floods last year. An eyewitness said that four masked and armed men arrived in a jeep in the NGO camp around 8pm, local time. Three entered the office and led the two aid workers out, stripped them of their clothes, made them get into the car and left. According to the police they were stripped to avoid being tracked by some electronic device hidden in the clothes. Later, the kidnappers apparently made the kidnapped men wear the traditional Pakistani mens’ garb the shalwar kameez. The phones of the hostages have not been active since the kidnapping.

In his profile on the Web John Lo Porto states that he arrived in Pakistan last October to participate as a "project manager" for the construction of emergency shelters in southern Punjab. He previously served in Haiti, and before that had worked with Cesvi for nine months, an Italian NGO in development cooperation, based in Bergamo.

Police surrounded the compound and put the area under control, where there are several armed anti-government groups such as the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni group, responsible for attacks and violence. In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has indicated that "all useful channels to follow the case closely have been activated and the family of the young man informed” and "as with other cases, we will adopt a line of restraint. " It 'very likely that the kidnapped was motivated not by political reasons, but financial ones.

General Ubaidullah Khan Khattak, head of the Frontier Corps said yesterday that abductions have grown to an alarming level, particularly in Balochistan, but also in the rest of the country, and have become a regular source of funding for militant groups. "The militants, Taliban or Balouch, use kidnappings to generate funds. They target foreigners, with the intention of obtaining a ransom in dollars. "

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