Two Czech women who were kidnapped by gunmen in Pakistan have been released and have returned home after nearly two years, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in a statement Saturday. The tourists were traveling in a bus when they were abducted in March 2013.
"I am really glad to confirm that Hana Humpalova and Antonie Chrastecka ... returned back to the Czech Republic today in the morning," Sobotka said, according to the Associated Press, adding that he wished them "a quick recovery and a return to a normal, quiet life."
Turkish organization Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) reportedly conducted negotiations with the kidnappers after the non-government charity was contacted by the victims’ families.
"We have put into use every tool at our disposal to get them back. We have delivered them to their families safely today," Izzet Sahin, an official with IHH told Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency, according to Agence France-Presse, adding that the organization was unaware why the two had been kidnapped.
The two women, both 26, were on their way from Iran to Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province.
In a video, which was released shortly after their abduction, the two were seen pleading for the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who was jailed in 2010 in the United States on charges of terrorist links. In another video released in August 2013, Humpalova urged the Czech government to exert pressure on Islamabad for her release.
"It was very hard. For the first time in our lives we saw weapons and armed men," Humpalova reportedly told Anadolu."We still do not know why were taken. There were weapons fired and bombs going off. But we got used to it in time."