QUETTA - Unidentified armed men on Wednesday kidnapped former Awami National Party (ANP) Balochistan Chapter President Arbab Abduz Zahir Kasi at gunpoint in broad daylight from the centre of the city.

According to police, the ANP leader was on his way along with his driver when the armed men intercepted his vehicle at gunpoint as he reached Patel Road, the centre of the city. “The kidnappers pulled Kasi out of his vehicle and threw him into their car,” a police official said, quoting his driver. The kidnappers also tortured the driver and snatched his cell phone and the car’s key from him before escaping from the scene. Police reached the spot and started investigating the matter.

Talking to media persons, son of the kidnapped ANP leader, Arbab Umar Farooq, said they had no enmity with anybody, adding the kidnappers manhandled the driver.

“Security has been put on high alert throughout the city, especially at exit points of the city, while police are making all-out efforts to ensure early and safe recovery of Kasi,” said Quetta Regional Police Officer Arif Nawaz.

The police said the driver of the ANP leader was also taken into custody for interrogation and a case registered against unidentified people.

Arbab Abduz Zahir Kasi is also the head of his tribe and his kidnapping has sent wave of concern among political and tribal quarters in the province. “We strongly condemn the kidnapping of Kasi and an emergency meeting of heads of the law-enforcement agencies has been called to devise a strategy for his early recovery,” said Balochistan Home Minister Mir Sarfraz Bugti, adding a comprehensive plan was being chalked out to eradicate kidnapping and other crimes. He said the law-enforcement agencies had been directed to take all possible steps for early release of the ANP leader.

On the other hand, a large number of ANP workers and members of Kasi tribe gathered on different roads of the city, including Jinnah Road, Kasi Road, Science College Chowk and Bacha Khan Chowk, and set old tyres on fire. Some armed men also opened aerial firing, creating panic and causing a massive traffic jam in the city upon which shopkeepers and banks closed their businesses. Three photo journalists were also allegedly beaten up by the protesters on Jinnah Raod.

The protesters also staged a strong protest against the kidnapping of Kasi in Khuclak and closed Quetta-Chaman and Quetta-Ziarat roads.

Later, addressing a press conference at the Quetta Press Club, ANP provincial organizer, Abdul Jabbar Kakar, announced a shutter-down strike in Quetta on Thursday (today). He said Kasi was the head of his tribe and had no enmity with anybody. He feared Kasi had been kidnapped for ransom. He warned that if steps were not taken for his early release, they would intensify their protest.

Kasi is the second important figure in Quetta who was kidnapped in one month. Earlier, a group of armed men kidnapped a prominent cardiologist, Dr Munaf Tareen, from the Pishin bus stop right in the heart of the city.

3 COPS DIE IN QUETTA ROAD MISHAP

Online adds: At least three policemen were killed and 13 others wounded when a truck they were riding overturned near Quetta on Wednesday.

Media reports say the incident took place at Kach Morr when security vehicle was returning to Quetta after training of new police recruits.

Three training policemen died and 13 others were wounded in the crash. The injured were rushed to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Quetta.