By ASIF SHAHZAD, Associated Press
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan confirmed Monday that a Chinese couple abducted at gunpoint has been killed, three days after Islamic State militants claimed the killing and sent a video to local journalists purporting to show their bodies.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan confirmed the deaths Monday, without saying who was behind the killings or whether the bodies have been recovered.
Lee Zing Yang, 24, and Meng Li Si, 26, were taken by gunmen from the southwestern city of Quetta last month.
IS claimed it killed the couple last week after Pakistan said it had prevented the group from establishing a stronghold. Pakistan has sought to downplay the group's presence, saying local militants are merely acting in its name.
Pakistani extremist groups have partnered with IS in a series of attacks in recent months, including a suicide bombing at a Sufi shrine in February that killed at least 90 people.
The interior minister said the Chinese couple had entered Pakistan on business visas but began "preaching" after they arrived in Quetta, without elaborating. He called for a review of his country's visa policies with regard to Chinese nationals.
China, a longtime ally of Pakistan, is investing billions of dollars in projects collectively known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Later Monday, Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong met with Gen. Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Pakistan's chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, an army statement said. It said they discussed security and defense, without elaborating.
Pakistan has been battling various extremist groups for more than a decade.