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Pakistani Kidnappers Refute Reports of Death of American Hostage

Pakistani separatists holding American United Nations official John Solecki hostage say he is still alive, refuting earlier reports that he had been killed.

Pakistani media ran stories Monday saying the Press Club in the southwestern city of Quetta had received an anonymous telephone call saying Solecki had been killed.

But a spokesman for the previously unheard-of Baluchistan Liberation United Front (BLUF) later called the Pakistan news agency, Online news agency, denying any call had been made from the group. The spokesman also said Solecki is in ill health.

John Solecki, head of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Baluchistan province, was abducted on February second by gunmen who ambushed his car and shot and killed his driver in the provincial capital, Quetta.

The Baluchistan Liberation United Front has threatened to kill Solecki unless the United Nations acts on its demands to release a group of female prisoners and resolve calls for independence in Baluchistan.

Over a week ago, the kidnappers released a video tape of a blindfolded man, who they identified as Solecki, pleading for his release.

The United Nations has repeatedly appealed for Solecki's release and direct contact with his kidnappers.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.