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Two judges kidnapped in restive Balochistan

Islamabad: Two judges have been kidnapped in the restive Balochistan province of southwest Pakistan days after the abduction of four senior lawyers, triggering protests by lawyers` associations.

District and Sessions Judge Jan Mohammad Gohar Yasinzai and Civil Judge Mohammad Ali Kakar were travelling to Usta Mohammad by road to attend a wedding when they were reported missing in Jaffarabad district yesterday.

Officials told the media they believed the two judges, who were accompanied by a police guard, had been kidnapped. The car in which the judges were travelling was found in Nasirabad district.

Jaffarabad Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Ayub Jaffar told the media that a search operation had been launched to trace the judges and their guard.

Four senior lawyers of the Balochistan High Court were kidnapped five days before the judges. Lawyers` associations today boycotted courts in Balochistan and warned they would organise protests if the kidnapped judges and lawyers are not traced.

No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of the judges or lawyers. Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani yesterday ordered law enforcement agencies to take immediate steps to recover the judges and to submit a report to him within 24 hours.

He ordered joint teams of the Levies militia, police and other law enforcement agencies to be set up to trace the judges. Balochistan Bar Association chief Baz Mohammad Kakar said lawyers will protest across the province against the kidnappings.

The government has failed to protect people and no one, not even the Governor or Chief Minister, is safe, he claimed. Kidnapping for ransom had become the order of the day, he said.

The abduction of judges and lawyers is an "attack on the judiciary", he said.

Over the past few months, several members of the minority Hindu community in Balochistan have also been kidnapped for ransom.

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