November 13, 2008

Iranian Diplomat Kidnapped in Pakistan

The commercial attache of Iran's consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan, was kidnapped Thursday after gunmen shot and killed his guard, police told GEO TV.

The network reported Hashmatullah Atharzadeh was traveling to his office from his home when gunmen stopped his vehicle in the Hayatabad area and took him hostage. His guard identified was gunned down when he tried to offer resistance, the report said.

The Iranian Consulate was quoted as saying it had received a report of Atharzadeh's kidnap.

Peshawar is the capital of Pakistan's violence-wracked North-West Frontier province, near the border with Afghanistan.

Parts of the region are suspected to be the stronghold of the Taliban and al-Qaida militants. The U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan say the militants used their sanctuaries in Pakistan to launch cross-border attacks on them.

The latest incident comes after gunmen in Peshawar shot and killed a U.S. aid worker Wednesday, CNN reported.

The victim was identified as Stephen D. Vance by his employer, the Cooperative Housing Foundation, a non-profit organization, the U.S. network said.