Associated Press
A Pakistani police officer looks at the shattered windshield of an Iranian diplomat's car after
an attack in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Gunmen Kidnap Iranian Diplomat in Pakistan

November 13, 2008 01:13 PM
by Isabel Cowles
Armed men kidnapped Hesmatollah Atharzadeh as he was leaving his Pakistan home; the incident highlights growing security problems in the country.
Gunmen abducted Iranian diplomat Hesmatollah Atharzadeh, the commercial counselor at the Iranian consulate, as he was leaving his house in a suburban region of Peshawar, Pakistan Thursday. Atharzadeh’s car was riddled with bullets before his attackers dragged him from the site. Atharzadeh’s guard and driver were killed in the attack, the New Zealand herald reported.

The incident came soon after American aid worker Stephen D. Vance was assassinated in Pakistan, a serious blow to U.S. efforts to secure the region. Vance worked for CHF International, an American aide group that seeks to develop infrastructure in the region. Police suspect that Islamic militants are responsible for the killing.

Until recently, Pashwar was considered a relatively safe area. But al-Qaida and Taliban militants have found hideouts throughout the region and have increased attacks and kidnappings over the last few months.

Kidnappings in the suburbs, where many diplomats live, have become so prevalent that many of the wealthier inhabitants have fled, leaving the area to political officials and middle-class residents, The New York Times reports.

Preshwar is an army headquarters for the Pakistan military: helicopter gunships currently patrol the region. Nevertheless, Taliban intelligence appears to be extremely advanced, allowing terrorists to pinpoint and target important political figures.

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