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President Milos Zeman says the Czech Republic paid a ransom for the release of two Czech women who were kidnapped in Pakistan in 2013

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PRAGUE — The Czech Republic paid a ransom for the release of two Czech women who were kidnapped in Pakistan in 2013, President Milos Zeman said Wednesday.

Hana Humpalova and Antonie Chrastecka were on the road from Iran to Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, when they were seized in March 2013.

They returned home last year in March and the government said their release was negotiated by a Turkish non-governmental humanitarian organization.

Zeman confirmed Wednesday information about the ransom first released in the latest edition of the weekly magazine Respekt. Zeman said during a visit to a western Czech region that 150 million koruna ($6.2 million) was paid, adding it was a tough decision.

The government has so far denied any ransom was paid and has condemned Zeman's comments, as have the opposition and security experts.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the comments "won't help anybody and anything."

After the criticism, Zeman attempted to detract the statement by saying he had only been citing from open sources.

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