13:52 GMT +315 October 2019
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    Antonie Chrastecka and Hana Humpalova

    Pakistani Militants Release Czech Backpackers After Two Years in Captivity

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    Two Czech women taken hostage by terrorists in Pakistan two years ago were released to their families on Friday after mediation by a Turkish NGO, and have since flown back to their homeland.

    A solder walks past at the scene of a car bomb attack and armed raid by Al Shebab militants on the Maka al Mukarama hotel in Mogadishu
    © AFP 2019 / Mohamed Abdiwahab
    Antonie Chrastecka and Hana Humpalova, both 27, were released on Friday after the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation [IHH] successfully negotiated for their release from captivity, two years after they were taken hostage by al-Qaeda affiliated militants in Pakistan.

    Izzet Sahin, the IHH representative who negotiated with the Pakistani group, told the media that the two women were flown to the eastern Turkish city of Van on Friday following two months of negotiations, after the families of the two hostages appealed to IHH for assistance in getting their release. They were reunited with their families in Turkey, before flying to the Czech Republic on Saturday morning.

    "I still can't believe that this is happening," said Chrastecka, upon arriving in Turkey. "On the one hand, I'm very worried and very tired, but I don't want to sleep because I'm scared that this is just a dream."

    In March 2013, Chrastecka and Humpalova were traveling from Iran to India when the minibus they were traveling in was stopped by armed militants in Balochistan, near the Pakistani border with Iran. During their time in captivity, the two appeared in several videos which were released to the media by their captors, including one which they demanded the release of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who was jailed in the United States in 2010 on charges of participation in terrorist activities.

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    hostage, IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, Czech Republic, Turkey, Pakistan
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