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Two Czech tourists kidnapped in Pakistan freed after two years

Two young Czech women abducted in Pakistan in 2013 have returned home after being freed by their captors. Their release was negotiated by a Turkish NGO.

Antonie Chrastecka (L) and Hana Humpalova (R) with Izzet Sahin from IHH (C) Ozkan Bilgin / Anadolu Agency

Antonie Chrastecka (L) and Hana Humpalova (R) with IHH coordinator Izzet Sahin in Turkey after their release

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Saturday confirmed the release and return home of the two women in a statement.

"I am really glad to confirm that Hana Humpalova and Antonie Chrastecka... returned back to the Czech Republic today in the morning," he said.

Sobotka said IHH, a Turkish Muslim non-governmental humanitarian organization, had negotiated the release of the two women, who had been traveling on a bus through Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province when they were adducted by al Qaeda-linked gunmen in March 2013.

He called on the media to respect their privacy, and wished the former hostages "a quick recovery and a return to a normal, quiet life."

At the time of their kidnapping, the two psychology students had crossed into Pakistan from Iran on holiday, and were accompanied by a tribal policeman.

In a video released soon after their abduction, the two women called for the release of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who is in jail in the United States on charges of having links to terrorism.

Another video was released late in 2013, in which they called on the Czech government to help them.

Kidnappings are rife in parts of Baluchistan and northwest Pakistan, with criminals abducting both foreigners and locals for ransom. The victims are sometimes passed on to the Taliban and al Qaeda-linked groups.

tj/sms (AFP, AP)