Two foreign aid workers taken in Multan

    A view of Multan, Pakistan. Photo by: Luke Martin / CC BY-NC-ND

    An Italian and a Dutch national are the latest victims in a spate of kidnappings in Pakistan.

    On Thursday (Jan. 19), unidentified gunmen seized Dutch national Bernd Johannes and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto just outside their office in the district of Multan, Punjab province. The two are working for Welthungerhilfe, a German nongovernmental organization helping victims of the 2010 floods in the country.

    An eyewitness told The Express Tribune four masked men entered the NGO’s compound in a four-wheel drive and took the two aid workers with them. They were reportedly stripped naked, according to police, to avoid being traced.

    Police are now checking all vehicles entering and exiting Multan. Mubarik Athar, Multan’s regional police officer, has also alerted police officers in Punjab’s Vehari, Khanewal, Bahawalpur and Muzaffargarh districts on the matter.

    The Italian foreign ministry has already confirmed the kidnapping and, in a statement, said it is in “permanent” contact with Lo Porto’s family. But Farzana Shah, spokesperson for Welthungerhilfe, said the organization could not confirm whether the two had been kidnapped.

    Aid workers have become targets of kidnappings in Pakistan lately. In December, four health workers were kidnapped in the province of Balochistan. A week after, in early January, a British doctor working for the International Committee of the Red Cross was abducted in Quetta, also in Balochistan.

    The four health workers have already been rescued. The doctor’s whereabouts, meanwhile, remain unknown.

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    About the author

    • Jenny Lei Ravelo

      Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.

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