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Page last updated at 14:51 GMT, Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Pakistan manhunt after UN kidnap

The site of the kidnapping in Quetta
Mr Solecki's driver was killed in the kidnapping in Quetta

Police in south-western Pakistan have set up checkpoints and blocked roads as part of a huge manhunt for kidnapped UN official, John Solecki.

Mr Solecki works for the UN refugee agency (the UNHCR) and was taken from his vehicle in Quetta on Monday by attackers who killed his driver.

About 15 people have been taken in for questioning, police said.

However, they said they had not yet determined whether Islamic militants or separatist groups were to blame.

Condemnation

The BBC's Azizullah Khan in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, says none of the 15 people arrested are considered important leads.

Map

Police say they are trying to determine whether any of the Quetta-based sectarian groups are involved in the kidnapping or whether it is the work of Islamist militants operating in North West Frontier Province or the tribal areas.

Senior Quetta police officer Wazir Khan Nasir told Reuters news agency: "The difficulty is that no-one has claimed responsibility. We can't single out the Taleban. We're investigating, we're trying our best."

Another top security official told AFP: "We have intensified police patrolling. Security has been intensified along the Afghan border to ensure the official has not slipped through the border."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the kidnapping and called for Mr Solecki's immediate release.

The interior ministry has told provincial governments to step up security for all UN employees in the country.

Kidnappings are far rarer in Balochistan than in the tribal areas and North West Frontier Province.

The UNHCR has been working for years in Quetta with refugees from Afghanistan.

There has been low level insurgency in Balochistan driven by groups wanting more autonomy for the energy-rich province.

Taleban groups have also been active in the region and several of the group's leaders, including Mullah Omar, are believed to be in hiding in Quetta.

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