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Monday, February 02, 2009

Gunmen Kidnap American U.N. Official

QUETTA, Pakistan — Gunmen kidnapped an American U.N. official and killed his driver in southwestern Pakistan on Monday, underscoring the security threat in a country wracked by Al Qaeda violence and rising criminality.

The official was abducted in the morning on his way to his job as head of the U.N. refugee office in the city of Quetta, senior police official Khalid Masood said. He identified the kidnapped official as John Solecki of the United States.

"Solecki has been serving in Quetta for more than two years," Masood told The Associated Press. "We cannot speculate on the motive behind the crime."

Authorities sealed exit routes from the city, said Wazir Khan Nasir, another senior police official. Meanwhile, police in the border town of Chaman said they were checking vehicles to prevent the kidnappers from whisking the captive to Afghanistan.

It was not immediately clear what impact the kidnapping would have on U.N. staff. September's bombing of Islamabad's Marriott hotel has already prompted new U.N. rules prohibiting expatriate staff in Pakistan from living with their children in parts of the country, including Quetta.

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