Mon, February 16, 2009
China > Mainland

Freed engineer tells of Taliban ordeal

2009-02-16 13:04:50 GMT2009-02-16 21:04:50 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

Long Xiaowei tells of his ordeal while held captive by Pakistani Taliban militants at the Chinese embassy in Islamabad Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009. [Xinhua]

In this Oct. 7, 2008 file photo, Long Xiaowei (L2) and Zhang Guo (R2) appear with two masked militants. [Xinhua]

Long Xiaowei gives a call to relatives in China at the Chinese embassy in Islamabad Sunday, February 15, 2009. [Xinhua]

A released Chinese engineer Sunday recalled his nearly six-month ordeal while held captive by Pakistani Taliban militants: In constant fear and despair, he was prepared to commit suicide at any moment.

Long Xiaowei, who was kidnapped along with his colleague Zhang Guo last August in the Dir region of northwest Pakistan, was freed Saturday and taken to the Chinese embassy early Sunday morning, where he told his tale.

“I never took a shower, nor did I change clothes there,” 28-year-old Long said. “I lived on coarse food made of corn flour and alike.”

What's worse, he was threatened of being killed at any moment, the grave possibility of which pushed him to the verge of psychological breakdown.

"I had been living in constant fear and despair every day, so I put a knife blade in my pocket -- the nearest place I could reach to cut my artery to kill myself once they tried to kill me.”

Long and engineer Zhang Guo both escaped in mid-October, but Long injured his ankle and was recaptured, while Zhang got away.

To punish Long, club-wielding militants ruthlessly hit his back and were alerted to highten security, confining him to a room of 15 square meters. They even dug a tunnel to connect his room with the toilet, so as to refrain him from any outdoor activities and thereby to better avoid escape.

The tunnel collapsed early Saturday as heavy snowstorms hit the region and Long was presumed dead. When militants opened the door to his room and found him alive, they were caught with surprise.

At 7 a.m. Saturday, Long was instructed to change into new clothes, for the first time in nearly half a year after being kidnapped. Then he was forced onto a car and after more than ten hours of ride in the mountains, he was transferred to Pakistani police at nightfall.

The Chinese ambassador Luo Zhaohui was notified of his release at 9 p.m. Saturday and immediately made relevant arrangements.

About four and a half hours later, Long returned to the Chinese embassy in Islamabad under the escort of Pakistani military and police.

The embassy chef was woken up and made noodles for Long, who said it was the first time he ate noodles and had taken a bite of meat over the past 160 days since he was kidnapped.

Long felt much relief after embassy staff told Long that Zhang Guo had already gone back home and was safe and sound. “I would never forgive myself if bad things had happened to Zhang, because it was my idea to run away at that time.”

Long appeared in good condition and is expected to go back to China soon after a medical checkup.

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