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Pakistan Hunts Al-Qaeda-linked Mastermind of Chinese kidnapping

Pakistani forces stepped up their hunt for an Al-Qaeda linked former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who masterminded the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers, security officials said. The five-day kidnap episode came to a bloody end Thursday, leaving one Chinese hostage and five abductors dead in a rescue operation by army commandos in the wild tribal belt of South Waziristan near the Afghan border.Tribal militant leader Abdullah Mahsud, who spent 25 months in US-run Camp X-ray in Cuba until his release in March, had ordered the kidnapping to pressure the government into halting counter-terrorism operations in the territory, believed to be a sanctuary for hundreds of Al-Qaeda fugitives. President Pervez Musharraf told his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao in a message late Thursday that the culprits behind the kidnapping would be caught and punished severely.The two Chinese engineers had been working on a multi-million dollar hydroelectric dam project near Jandola, 75 kilometers (47 miles) from the Afghan border in South Waziristan along with dozens of others from a state-run Chinese company. They were kidnapped by a group of five militants when they were going to the worksite from nearby Dera Ismail Khan city last week. The Chinese killed during the rescue operation had been identified as Wang Peng. His colleague Wang Ende, who was rescued unhurt is in Islamabad and likely to be flown to Beijing later Friday. Officials have blamed Mahsud for the failure of negotiations because he rebuffed attempts by tribal elders and his relatives, including some retired army officials, to free the hostages.Mahsud, 29, was a Taliban fighter since his teens and was described by intelligence agencies as an Al-Qaeda-linked facilitator.Full Story

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