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Pakistani ambassador to Kabul 'missing'

Latest update : 2008-02-11

Pakistan's ambassador to Afghanistan has gone missing and is feared abducted, say Pakistani officials. Tariq Azizuddin disappeared while driving through a restive tribal border region near Afghanistan.

Pakistan's ambassador to Afghanistan is missing and feared abducted in a Pakistani tribal region where Islamist militants have carried out attacks, officials and state media said.
  
Envoy Tariq Azizuddin was heading to the Afghan capital Kabul with his driver when he disappeared in the Khyber tribal district, a lawless region bordering Afghanistan, the foreign office said.
  
"He has gone missing, we are confirming he is missing but at this stage I cannot give you any more details," foreign office spokesman Mohammad Sadiq told AFP.
  
State television earlier cited the foreign office as confirming that the ambassador was feared missing.
  
The Pakistan embassy in Kabul said it last had contact with the ambassador at around 11:30 am (0630 GMT) and was trying to find out what had happened.
  
"We know that he was coming from (the northwestern Pakistani city of) Peshawar to Kabul and we lost contact with him. We are trying our best to find out what happened," spokesman Naheem Khan told AFP.
  
If confirmed, Azizuddin would be the most senior of several government officials to have been abducted in Pakistan's violence-prone tribal belt. Blame has either fallen on Islamist militants or criminal kidnap gangs.
  
The chief administrative official in Khyber, Rasool Khan Wazir, said security forces raised the alarm when the ambassador failed to reach the main border post between the two countries at Torkham.
  
"The search was launched when Afghan authorities informed us that he had failed to reach (Torkham)," Wazir said, adding that the envoy was travelling in an official car with his driver, who was also missing, he said.
  
Officials at another checkpost had earlier ordered the ambassador's car to stop "because they saw some local people sitting in the front seat. But they did not stop," Wazir said.
  
"Where they are we don't know. We have launched a search," Wazir added.
  
The main road between Pakistan and Afghanistan was closed for search operations, television channels said.
  
The ambassador went missing in an area where two Pakistani employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross disappeared earlier this month. Their fate is unknown.
  
Pakistan's tribal belt has been wracked by fighting between government forces and Islamist militants linked to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, although Khyber has been one of the more peaceful regions.

Date created : 2008-02-11

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