Swiss couple 'escape' Taliban captors


A Swiss couple kidnapped by the Pakistani Taliban last July have claimed that they escaped after showing up at a military checkpoint on a main road in the northwest of Pakistan today.

Pakistani media identified the pair as Olivier David Och (31) and Daniela Widmer (29). They were kidnapped in Pakistan's southwestern province of Baluchistan and had been held by the Taliban in the North Waziristan region on the Afghan border.

"They escaped, this is what they have told us," Pakistan army spokesman Athar Abbas told Reuters. "They reported to our checkpost then. They are being questioned at the moment in Peshawar."

According to intelligence sources in North Waziristan, the two were found at a military checkpoint on a main road in Miranshah, the region's main town, at about 5.30am and were then sent to the city of Peshawar by helicopter.

Pakistan's Taliban had claimed responsibility for kidnapping the couple, who were seized in the Loralai district of Baluchistan province on July 1st.

Kidnapping for ransom is relatively common in Pakistan, although foreigners are not often targets. Militants also occasionally take foreigners hostage. Two Western aid workers were kidnapped by gunmen in the central Pakistani city of Multan on January 19th.

Another, a British doctor working with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), was kidnapped in the southwestern city of Quetta on January 5th.

Warren Weinstein, an American aid worker, was kidnapped from the central Pakistani city of Lahore in August last year. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for Weinstein's abduction in December.