BERN, SWITZERLAND – Olivier and Daniela, whose last names are not given by Bern to protect their privacy, are indeed free and the Swiss ambassador has spoken with them: the travelers from Bern were reported by the Pakistan army earlier in the day to have been picked up at a checkpoint and taken to safety.
Video RTS, Swiss public broadcasting
The two were kidnapped in July 2011 by Taliban but escaped. The Taliban reported earlier Thursday that they had released the hostages for a ransom and several prisoners in exchange, but the Swiss Foreign Affairs Department confirmed late afternoon Thursday that they escaped by their own means and no ransom was paid by either Pakistan or Switzerland.
Both appear to be in good health, under the circumstances, and were unharmed, according to Bern. They were taken “by helicopter from the Miranshah region to Peshawar and later to Islamabad”, says Bern. “The FDFA had set up an interdepartmental task force which coordinated the activities of the various services responsible – the Federal Office of Police fedpol, the Federal Intelligence Service, and the cantonal police forces of Bern and Aargau. The Head of the Crisis Management Centre of the FDFA, Ambassador Christian Dussey, was in charge of this task force.”
Pakistan is on the list of countries that the Swiss government warns should be avoided by travelers except in case of emergency and it strongly urges other Swiss citizens to heed the advice offered on its travel advisory pages.