July 2000 News

Search on for abducted German tourist

16 July 2000
The Hindu
Shujaat Bukhari

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir police have launched a manhunt to trace a foreign tourist, believed to be a German, who was kidnapped from the Zanskar area of Kargil. Two more tourists from Australia and the Netherlands are missing, sources said. Confirming that the tourist, whose identity is yet to be ascertained, was whisked away by the militants responsible for killing of the three Buddhist monks in Zanskar on Wednesday last, the State Director-General of Police, Mr. Gurbachan Jagat, said police parties had swung into action to trace the tourist. He said that Nazir Ahmed Bakhshi, driver of the truck in which the five militants who killed the monks were travelling, had been taken into custody. He confirmed that a foreigner was also travelling in the truck. But it is not clear whether he was taken away by the militants or released. Mr. Jagat said the foreigner is believed to be a German national but his identity was being ascertained. The tourist had most probably come from Manali (Himachal Pradesh) and was a trekker. A zonal police headquarters spokesperson said in a statement that enquiries in Zanskar showed that a German national, Mr. Harfurth Rolf (passport no. 4007889390), who was put up in a hotel, had left Zanskar for Kargil on July 11. It is possible that the foreigner travelling in the truck might be the same German. Sources said on Saturday that at least four civilians who had seen the tourist being taken have been taken into custody for questioning. They said two more tourists from Australia and the Netherlands were missing after they left their hotel in Zanskar. The authorities are looking into the matter and nothing has been confirmed officially. The fate of four foreign tourists who were kidnapped five years ago by the Al-Faran militant group is not yet known. They are from the U.S., the U.K. and Germany. The State Government had announced a Rs. 10-lakh award for those who provide clues about their fate. It is the fifth incident in 11 years of militancy when foreigners were abducted. Two Swedish engineers working for the Uri power project were abducted by the Muslim Janbaz Force in 1991, followed by the abduction of a French engineer from the Dulhasti power project in Kishtwar, the kidnapping of Mr. Kim Housgo and his friend by the Harkat-ul Mujahideen in 1994 and the last being of six tourists by the Al-Faran in 1995, of whom one was killed and another escaped.


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