PRAGUE — Two Czech tourists who were abducted by gunmen two years ago as they were traveling on a bus through southwestern Pakistan have been released, the Czech government said on Saturday.
"I am really glad to confirm that Hana Humpalova and Antonie Chrastecka ... returned back to the Czech Republic today in the morning," Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in a statement.
Sobotka said their release was negotiated by Turkish non-governmental humanitarian organization IHH.
"I am very tired but I don't want to sleep. I am afraid this may be a dream," Chrastecka told Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency before flying home.
"When we came out, we were happy to see the sun after two years, to see happy, smiling people. We were deprived of this," said Humpalova.
The women were on the road from Iran to Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, when they were seized in March 2013. They had been given a police guard in Pakistan to escort them on a passenger bus but the policeman was no match for the eight to 10 gunmen who stopped them in Chaghi district near the Iran and Afghanistan borders, officials said. The disarmed policeman was later released.
Serkan Nergis, a spokesman for the IHH, said the women's families had contacted his group two months ago, seeking help after their efforts for their release failed.
"We used our sources in the region to find out where in Pakistan they were being held and then worked for their release. It was a long and detailed process," Nergis said, without elaborating.
He said the women were captured by a group linked to al-Qaida.
The IHH escorted them to the eastern Turkish city of Van by road, where they arrived Friday evening and were reunited with their families, Nergis said.
"We didn't know who was holding us, because they never told us or said why they were holding us," Humpalova said.
Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said psychologists and other experts treated the two after their arrival but would not disclose where they were.
"It is in the interest of us all to help them cope with the transition," Zaoralek told Czech public radio.
Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed.
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