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Swiss couple released in Pakistan

By Shaan Khan, CNN
updated 12:29 PM EDT, Thu March 15, 2012
The Swiss identity cards of a couple, kidnapped by the Taliban, appear on a table at a police station in Quetta, Pakistan, in July.
The Swiss identity cards of a couple, kidnapped by the Taliban, appear on a table at a police station in Quetta, Pakistan, in July.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The husband and wife say they escaped from the Taliban, the Pakistan military says
  • The two were kidnapped in July
  • The Pakistan Taliban say the group released the couple

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- A Swiss couple -- kidnapped in July while traveling in Pakistan's volatile southwestern Balochistan province -- are free, Pakistani military and Taliban officials said Thursday.

"The Swiss ambassador in Islamabad is in direct contact with them and has ascertained that they are uninjured and that, given the circumstances, they are doing well," the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. "They are currently in a safe place in Pakistan. They will return to Switzerland as soon as possible."

The couple -- Daniela Widmer and David Och -- were taken by helicopter from the Miranshah region to Peshawar and then to Islamabad, the statement said, adding that Pakistani authorities informed the Swiss Embassy in Islamabad of the development.

The husband and wife said they escaped from the Taliban upon reaching a military checkpoint near the city of Miranshah in North Waziristan, a tribal region in northwest Pakistan, said Athar Abbas, a Pakistani military spokesman.

But a spokesman for the Pakistan Taliban, Ihsanullah Ihsan, said the group released the couple after a council of elders was convened.

The two were grabbed at gunpoint in July while traveling in the town of Loralai, senior provincial administration official Sohail Rehman Baloch said at the time.

Locals witnessed the kidnapping of the pair, who had been headed to the city of Quetta, Baloch said.

The couple entered the province from Dera Ghazi Khan in the Punjab District and registered at a police checkpoint, Baloch said.

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