Pakistan radicals release Chinese 'brothel' workers
Students from a radical mosque have released nine hostages who had earlier been taken from an alleged brothel in the Pakistani capital, a mosque leader said.
Abdul Rashid Ghazi, a top cleric at Islamabad's Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, said the nine had been let go in the interests of friendship between Pakistan and China and after authorities had given assurances about stopping mixed-sex massage parlours.
The abductions were the most provocative action by the Taliban-supporting students associated with the Red Mosque in their self-styled anti-vice campaign.
China is Pakistan's most steadfast ally. The Pakistani Government has called the kidnappings, from what it said was a health clinic, "shocking".
Mr Ghazi says seven of the nine, who were held at a religious school next to the Lal Masjid, were Chinese and two Pakistanis. Six of the Chinese were women, he said.
"We greatly respect Pakistan-China friendship but it doesn't mean that foreign women can come here and indulge in such vulgar activities," he said before their release.
"We had complaints that these women did massage for men but it was more than that."
China's Xinhua news agency said Pakistan Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao had telephoned China's ambassador to apologise and assure him the hostages would be speedily released.
Authorities have been confronting the clerics and students at the mosque for months. The radicals have threatened suicide bombings if force was used against them.
Trouble began in January when female students attached to the mosque occupied a library next to their school to protest against a campaign to remove mosques built illegally on state land.