Britons held hostage by Kashmiri gunmen

TIM McGIRK

New Delhi

and MUKHTAR AHMED

Srinagar

Two Britons and two Americans were kidnapped by suspected Kashmiri separatists while trekking through the Himalayan mountains in the troubled Indian state of Kashmir, police officials confirmed yesterday.

The Britons were identified as Paul Wells, a 23-year-old photography student on a six-week trekking holiday, and Ian Kydd. They and the Americans were seized by gunmen while they were climbing to a glacier in a high mountain valley of southern Kashmir.

"They were walking in the Kashmir hills in Indian Kashmir and a military group overran them and took four of them off," a Foreign Office spokesman said later in London. The spokesman said the Foreign Office had no further information on the four, who disappeared in a popular holiday area near Srinagar.

Two female and one male trekker, who was ill, were allowed to leave by the 15 gunmen who surrounded their camp. This party of three, along with two guides, walked for a day to Pahalgam to alert police.

A militant group calling itself Al-Faran yesterday claimed responsibility. Police said the captors were demanding that 21 leading Kashmiri militants be released from jail in exchange for the hostages. A Kashmir Rangers police chief, Sayed Shoaib Ali, said that security forces had begun a "massive hunt" in the Lidder valley, where the four were seized on Tuesday.

Al-Faran is thought to be an offshoot of a militant organisation known as Harakat-ul-Ansar, which a year ago kidnapped two Britons, Kim Housego and David Mackie, climbing in the same Pahalgam area. Indians say Harakat- ul-Ansar and possibly the new group have many Afghan and Pakistani guerrillas among their ranks. Kim, 16, and Mr Mackie, 34, were freed unharmed after 17 days.

Kashmiri separatists have been waging a five-year civil war against Indian security forces in which more than 10,000 people have died.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
tech
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
News
video
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - North West London, £35-40k

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant (ACCA / CIMA, ...

Recruitment Genius: Female Care Team

£11 - £12 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A 10 year old girl who has profound an...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Manchester - Urgent Requirement!

£30000 - £35000 per annum + 20 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Marketi...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Development Manager ...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore