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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs. — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan
  • Dr Afzal was “kidnapped and held in captivity for over 3 months”.
  • The kidnapping took place after an attack on Abuja-Kaduna train on March 28.
  • Minister for Foreign Affairs Bilawal Bhutto Zardari says he is “highly relieved”.

The government and people of Pakistan express deep appreciation to the “brotherly people and government of Nigeria for helping to secure safe release of Pakistani citizen, Dr Abuzar Muhammad Afzal”, the Foreign Office said on Sunday.

According to a statement by the FO, Dr Afzal was “kidnapped and held in captivity for over 3 months”.

“Dr Abuzar was among scores of passengers taken hostage in an attack on Abuja-Kaduna train on March 28, 2022,” said the statement.

It added that he is the “only foreigner among seven hostages freed last night, and 13 others released a month ago”.

According to the Foreign Office, in a video message from Kaduna City this morning following his release, Dr Afzal “thanked the governments of Pakistan and Nigeria, the negotiator and his employer, and everyone who contributed to the efforts for his freedom”.

“He also thanked the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Foreign Minister, and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs for consistent endeavours to ensure his well-being and safe release,” it said.

The FO, in its statement, went on to say that Pakistan “appreciates the political and military leadership of Nigeria, as well as the coordination between the two Ministries of Foreign Affairs and the High Commissions culminating in the release of [Dr Afzal]”.

Regarding his current status, the FO said that Dr Afzal “has already reached Abuja and provided with Emergency Travel Document by the Pakistan High Commission to facilitate his journey to Pakistan later tonight”.

The FO said Dr Afzal will be reunited with his family and loved ones in Multan coinciding with the happy occasion of Eid ul Adha.

‘Highly relieved’

In a message on Twitter, Minister for Foreign Affairs Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said he is “highly relieved by the safe release” of the Pakistani national.

“We thank leadership, government and people of Nigeria for all their help,” the foreign minister said.

“I also commend the efforts of everyone in Pakistan who worked tirelessly to ensure this outcome,” he added.

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