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Swiss hostages “safe” up to a week ago

The Islamabad-based Fata Research Center has obtained more information on the wellbeing of two Swiss hostages being held in the Pakistani border region of Waziristan.

“They are being well fed, they are together and the Taliban [kidnappers] allow them a walk outside their cell from time to time,” Mansur Khan Mahsud of the centre told the Swiss newspaper Tribune de Genève in an interview published on Tuesday.

Mahsud said the demands of the kidnappers  – for the liberation of Taliban fighters – were credible, and that the lives of the hostages were in danger if Switzerland and Pakistan refused to make concessions and no deal was reached.

The institute previously obtained videos of the hostages which were broadcast last week.

The videos in English and Swiss-German dialect show the Bernese couple holding a newspaper dated September 15 and calling for Switzerland, the United States and Pakistan to meet the hostage-takers’ demands.

As the recording of the video message would have been monitored, it is thought that a person involved in the kidnapping would have to understand Swiss German. A man with connections to the lawless region, who fled terror charges in Switzerland in 2007, has been identified as a likely suspect.

The couple were travelling in the Balochistan province of Pakistan when they were captured by armed men last July. The following week a spokesman for the Taliban said they had been moved to the neighbouring province of South Waziristan on the Afghan border.

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SWI swissinfo.ch - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR