DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) — A Chinese tourist travelling through northwestern Pakistan was abducted by gunmen, Pakistani police said Tuesday. A militant commander said his Taliban-allied group was behind the kidnapping.
The Chinese national's passport, bicycle and belongings were found on Tuesday in the town of Daraban on the outskirts of Dera Ismail Khan district, said police chief Sadiq Baluch. He said the man had apparently entered Pakistan from neighboring India sometime in April.
The police were not informed about the man's presence in the district bordering Pakistan's lawless tribal region, which is home to local and al-Qaida-linked foreign militants, Baluch added.
The police identified the Chinese man from his passport as Hong Xudong. No one at the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad immediately responded to calls for comment.
The commander of a militant group allied with the Pakistani Taliban, Abdullah Bahar, claimed responsibility for the abduction. In a telephone call to The Associated Press from an undisclosed location, Bahar said the man has been taken to a "safe place."
Bahar said his Shehryar Mehsud group, which operates under the Pakistani Taliban, would use the Chinese tourist to try to secure the release of their comrades in Pakistani custody.
It was not clear, however, if the abduction was sanctioned by the central command of the Pakistani Taliban, whose spokesman was not available for comment.
Kidnapping for ransom is one of several sources for the militants to generate money. Such abductions are sometime also used to pressure the Pakistani government to release militants in custody.
The local Taliban have been waging war against the state in a bid to install their own harsh brand of Islamic Shariah, killing thousands of Pakistanis.
Since he took office last summer, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been pursuing a policy of negotiation with the Taliban to end the decades of militant violence. His government's efforts have so far yielded no results.