Swiss Taliban hostages return home from Pakistan captivity | News | DW | 17.03.2012
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Swiss Taliban hostages return home from Pakistan captivity

A Swiss couple, who had been captured by the Taliban in Pakistan last July, arrived safely back home on Saturday. They say they managed to escape, while the Taliban say a ransom was paid.

Two Swiss holidaymakers who had been held captive by the Taliban in Pakistan since last July arrived safely at Zurich airport on Saturday, the Swiss Foreign Ministry said in statement.

The couple, who claim to have escaped from their captors in southwestern Pakistan, were flown to safety by the Pakistani military before going back home to Switzerland. Taliban commanders insist a ransom was paid for their release, but the Swiss government claims it does not pay to free hostages.

David Och and Daniela Widmer, both police officers, were in good health, given the ordeal they had been through.

"We had to go through incredibly difficult moments that have marked us for our lifetimes. During all that time we felt the greatest uncertainty and feared for our lives," the pair said in the statement.

Lucky escape

The couple were on vacation in Pakistan when they were seized in the southwestern province of Baluchistan on July 1. Widmer and Och were shown in a militant video in October, saying their captors were threatening to kill them.

"After thinking about it for a long time we made the decision to dare an escape despite the great risks.That is why we are free today," the Foreign Ministry statement read.

Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter said in Berne on Thursday they had shown "great courage," after the couple turned up at an army base near the Afghan border.

Militants and criminal gangs often kidnap wealthy Pakistanis and, occasionally, foreigners.

Ransom payments are commonplace but rarely confirmed by the authorities involved. There are at least five other foreigners being held hostage in Pakistan.

ng/ncy (AP, AFP)