|Wang Ende, one of Chinese hostages, is greeted by Chinese Ambassador Zhang Chunxiang and his colleagues after freed unhurt.|
i forces launched an operation Thursday to free the two Chinese engineers held hostage in its western tribal belt, leaving one of the duo killed.
Wang Ende, 49, was seen by Xinhua step down of an aircraft that reached the Chakalala military base here later on Thursday, unhurt, and the Chinese embassy here confirmed Ende's safety.
Ende told Xinhua that he has made a phone-call talking to "every one" at home, a huge relief to the family, which has been in anxiety since his capture on Saturday.
While talking to Xinhua, Ende expressed the gratitude to the Chinese embassy for its efforts to secure his release, to the Chinese government and Chinese people for their concern over his safety.
The dead body of Wang Peng, the fellow victim, is expected to be sent to a military hospital in Rawalpindi, twin-city of the capital, later the day, said the embassy.
The other two hostages, one Pakistani policeman and one driver, were released by the captors prior to the raid, said a press release from the military's Interservices Public Relations.
All the five abductors were killed in the shoot-out with the Pakistani troops, the release said.
|Photo of Chinese engineer Wang Peng who was killed in the rescue operation in Pakistan western tribal belt, Oct. 14, 2004. |
It said tribal elders, political and religious leaders all made hectic efforts for the safe release of the hostages.
Relatives of Abudullah Mahsud, the master-mind of the kidnapping, were also engaged in the rescue efforts, said the release, adding that as all the peaceful bids have failed, the security forces launched the operation.
The military operation started at around 12:00 local time and finished about 15 minutes later.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri called on Chinese Ambassador Zhang Chunxiang Thursday afternoon to express regret that the operation had not successfully rescued both hostages.
Zhang displayed his understanding of the efforts having been made by the Pakistani side and called for a joint effort by the two sides to handle the aftermath of the tragedy properly.
He also urged the Pakistani minister to take all necessary measures to beef up the protection of other Chinese expatriates there.
Gunmen kidnapped the two engineers, Wang Ende and Wang Peng, Saturday near Jandala in Pakistan's South Waziristan Tribal Agency bordering Afghanistan.
The engineers had been working on a water dam and a canal in the region for the China National Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Group Corporation.
The kidnappers were soon nailed down by some 30 Pakistani security personnel when they were escaping in the direction of the Pakistani-Afghan border. And the Pakistani military sent six helicopters to join the rescue efforts.
|Pakistani FM Khurshid Kasuri (left) calls on Chinese Ambassador Zhang Chunxiang to express regret for Wang Peng's death.|
The kidnappers and the Pakistani security forces agreed to disengage each other and to entrust a tribal chieftain to guard the hostages and five kidnappers separately and broker a peaceful solution to the crisis.
On Sunday, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing urged the Pakistani government to take "all necessary measures" to rescue the two hostages and ensure their safety.
Li told his Pakistani counterpart, Khurshid Kasuri, on the phone that the Chinese government and people were deeply concerned with the hostages' situation.
Abdullah Mehsud, the brain behind the abducting scene, has spent over a year in US detention in Guantanamo for his involvement in the fight with US troops 2001 in neighboring Afghanistan.
He was freed this March and resumed command of a team of militants in the restive South Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan.
A 21-member jirga was constituted to persuade Mehsud and his henchmen to release the Chinese hostages.
However, the militants had rejected to meet the jirga members, a traditional way in the tribal region to solve conflicts.
Pakistani officials say some 600 foreign militants are hiding in the tribal region after they fled Afghanistan following US-led coalition's military operation in Afghanistan in 2001.