Kidnapped U.N. worker freed

Pakistani police officers stand on alert Saturday near the site of a suicide attack inside a base housing paramilitary troops.

Associated Press

Pakistani police officers stand on alert Saturday near the site of a suicide attack inside a base housing paramilitary troops.

ISLAMABAD — An American U.N. worker abducted more than two months ago turned up unharmed Saturday, lying alongside a road in western Pakistan with his hands and feet bound and pleading "Help me, help me," the man who found him said.

John Solecki was discovered Saturday evening abandoned in a village some 30 miles south of Quetta near the Afghan border after his captors called a local news agency to tell them where to look, officials said.

Mohammed Anwar, the owner of a restaurant alongside the main Quetta-Karachi highway, said he found a bound Solecki lying in the dirt near a wall. Anwar said he heard a voice in the gloom saying "Help me, help me" in English.

Solecki made no public comment. Police and U.N. officials declined to discuss what lead to his release. U.N. officials who met with him Saturday reported that he was "tired but all right," U.N. spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis said.

Solecki, who headed the U.N. refugee agency's operations in Quetta, would be reunited with his family "as soon as possible," Pagonis said, declining to say when he would leave Pakistan or whether he planned to return.

Solecki's release was a rare piece of good news amid intensifying violence here that has raised international alarm over the nuclear-armed country's stability. On Saturday, a suicide bomber attacked a paramilitary base in the capital, killing eight.

The attack occurred at 8 p.m., when many families were gathering for dinner in nearby houses, and after senior police officials had been warning for more than a week that suicide bombers had entered the city.

Pakistani officials were unnerved because the attack appeared to have been slightly more involved than other recent suicide missions here that were thought to have been carried out by lone bombers. At least two people appear to have staged the attack on Saturday, one of them a gunman who the official said fired shots after the bombing.

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At least 62 people suffocated to death in the back of a truck packed with illegal migrants, and dozens were rescued unconscious after Pakistani police acting on a tip opened the vehicle Saturday near the Afghan border. The shipping container the truck was carrying entered Pakistan from Afghanistan and was headed for Iran; most of the victims were Afghans, officials said.

fast facts

62 migrants found dead in truck

At least 62 people suffocated in the back of a truck packed with illegal migrants, and dozens were rescued unconscious after Pakistani police, acting on a tip, opened the vehicle Saturday near the Afghan border. The shipping container the truck was carrying entered Pakistan from Afghanistan and was headed for Iran.

Kidnapped U.N. worker freed 04/04/09 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 4:49pm]

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