US-based NGO closes offices in Balochistan, Sindh

The US-based NGO Mercy Corps has closed its all offices in Balochistan and Sindh provinces in the wake of the killing of one of its employees in the restive tribal belt in northwest Pakistan.

Last Updated: Jun 15, 2010, 17:19 PM IST

Islamabad: The US-based NGO Mercy Corps
has closed its all offices in Balochistan and Sindh provinces
in the wake of the killing of one of its employees in the
restive tribal belt in northwest Pakistan.

Unidentified armed men kidnapped three officials of
Mercy Corps and a driver while they were travelling to Quetta
from Zhob on February 18.
The kidnappers, believed to be militants, killed the
driver named Habibullah on Sunday and sent a video of the
killing to his family.

Mohammad Shafa, the brother of Habibullah, said his
family had received a CD from Mercy Corps which showed his
brother being killed by the kidnappers in a ?brutal way?.

The kidnappers have demanded Rs 100 million as ransom
for the release of the other hostages, Asif Abbas, Iftikhar
Shah and Babrak Suleman.

They have also refused to hand over Habibullah?s body
until the ransom is paid. In the video, Habibullah is shown
before his killing. He says the kidnappers will kill the other
hostages one by one if the ransom is not paid.

The Mercy Corps chief in Balochistan, Saeedullah,
told reporters that the NGO had closed 40 offices in
Balochistan and eight in Sindh.
"We have closed our offices in protest against the
cold-blooded murder of Habibullah and the continued delay in
the recovery of three officers held hostage by the
kidnappers," he said.

A total of 220 employees of Mercy Corps in
Balochistan and Sindh had begun an indefinite strike,
Saeedullah said.

The Mercy Corps was working on health, water and
sanitation projects in remote areas of Balochistan.

Balochistan`s Home Secretary Akbaar Hussain Durrani
said telephone calls by the kidnappers to family members of
the hostages were made from North and South Waziristan tribal
regions.

The Balochistan government has approached authorities
in Khyber-Pakhtunkawa to help trace the kidnappers, he said.

PTI