Kidnapped cyclist freed after 15 months (China Daily)

An IT specialist kidnapped 15 months ago during a cycling trip in northwestern Pakistan was rescued from the Taliban splinter group holding him captive and was expected to return home to Hubei province in a few days.

Hong Xudong, 26, told his mother by phone on Sunday that he “was in good health” after being rescued by Pakistan’s security forces and intelligence agencies late on Saturday night.

Hong had already cycled through western China, Nepal and India over a 10-month period, and was planning to complete an Asian tour when he was kidnapped in May last year.

Pakistan immediately launched a search mission after his bike was found abandoned by his captors on the roadside.

The Chinese embassy in Pakistan said in a statement on Sunday that Hong’s rescue was the result of the combined efforts of China and Pakistan, and China was grateful for the immense contribution Pakistan made in securing his release, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Earlier on Sunday, Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told reporters in Islamabad that following an initial medical checkup, Hong had been whisked to the embassy where he was receiving treatment and care.

Hong had been seen in a video released by the Taliban affiliated group in May in which he appeared to be under great duress.

Hong told his mother, in a telephone call shortly after midnight from the Chinese embassy in Pakistan, that he “was in good health with no problems”, according to Beijing News.

Ye Hailin, a researcher at the National Institute of International Strategy, under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Chinese tourists need to be aware of the risks when traveling in dangerous or chaotic areas.

“While Chinese people are increasingly enthusiastic about taking overseas trips, they should be well prepared for potential risks,” Ye said.

Tourists should also fully understand local laws and regulations, and be aware of which areas are dangerous for foreigners, he said.

A Chinese college student was recently detained in northern Iraq after being suspected of having links to the Islamic State militant group.

It was later determined the archaeology major sought to visit historic sites he was afraid might be destroyed.

(China Daily 08/25/2015 page4)