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Published: Saturday April 19, 2014 MYT 4:11:07 PM
Updated: Saturday April 19, 2014 MYT 4:12:02 PM

Gunmen kidnap two Pakistani U.N. staff members from Karachi

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Gunmen have kidnapped two men working for the U.N. Children's Fund from Pakistan's southern city of Karachi, police said Saturday.

The two Pakistani men were on their way to a bus terminal to pick up some relatives when they were taken, the police official said. The men were taken on Thursday night, he said.

So far, no ransom call had been received, he said, and it was unclear who was holding the men. The police officer asked not to be named since he was not authorized to speak to the media.

A spokeswoman for the U.N. Children's Fund, also known as UNICEF, was not available to comment.

The port city of Karachi is Pakistan's financial heart and home to 18 million people. Many neighbourhoods are considered Taliban strongholds, including the area of Shorab Goth, which is near where the men were taken.

In February, gunmen kidnapped three Pakistani men working for the U.N.'s World Health Organization in the north-western town of Tank. They are still being held.

Pakistan is plagued by kidnapping gangs. Foreigners and wealthy Pakistanis are frequently targeted and kidnappings are reported on a near-daily basis.

Current hostages include an American aid worker, the son of a former prime minister, the son of a former provincial governor, and many professionals such as doctors and lawyers.

Militant groups such as the Taliban often use such kidnappings to raise money for their insurgency.

The Taliban have been fighting for years to overthrow the democratically elected government and impose strict Islamic law on the country of 180 million people.

(Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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