ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Six Pakistanis working for a Polish oil company who were kidnapped by Taliban militants in November pleaded for their lives in a video released on Tuesday by a militant faction.
The workers were kidnapped in northwest Pakistan while carrying out exploration work for oil and gas surveyor Geofizyka Krakow. A Polish engineer from the same company was kidnapped in late 2008 in northwest Pakistan and beheaded several months later.
The six men can be seen in the video sitting on a floor, flanked by two masked, armed Pakistani Taliban militants while one of them read a statement.
“We are alive and well and appeal to our company, the government of Pakistan, and our families to secure our release as fast as possible or we will meet the same fate as the foreign worker,” said the man reading the statement, who identified himself as Abdul Khaliq.
Geofizyka Krakow has been in liquidation since August, and its parent company, PGNiG, said representatives were cooperating fully with Pakistani authorities, including the police and army.
“Every effort is made to find and release the persons kidnapped,” the company said in a statement emailed to Reuters.
A senior government official in the city of Dera Ismail Khan, near where the men were kidnapped, said authorities were trying to save the men.
“The kidnapped men are our Pakistani brothers, we are taking every possible step for their recovery,” the official, Sami Ullah Khan, said.
A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban faction claiming to hold the six said they would not be released until their demands were met. The spokesman, Azam Tariq, declined to elaborate on the demands.
Security in Pakistan has improved over the last few years but many of the northwestern areas bordering Afghanistan remain volatile and dangerous, especially for foreigners and those working with foreign companies.
The semi-autonomous northwest frontier region, hard to access due to rough terrain, has long been the sanctuary of fighters from al Qaeda, the Taliban and other militant groups.
Additional reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko in WARSAW; Writing by Saad Sayeed; Editing by Robert Birsel