Kidnapped Christian preacher in Pakistan returns

A Christian preacher abducted in southwestern Pakistan escaped from his captors and reached the capital, Islamabad, police and friends said on Tuesday.

Wilson Fazal, a Pakistani Pentecostal cleric at a church in the city of Quetta, disappeared on Sunday after receiving threatening letters from an unknown group of Islamists urging him to convert to Islam or face unspecified consequences.

"He has been found and is in Islamabad," police Deputy Inspector General Pervez Rafi Bhatti told Reuters in Quetta. "We have sent a police team to bring him back safely."

Bhatti said that according to Fazal he had been kidnapped and taken to the northwestern city of Peshawar, about 600 km (375 miles) northeast of Quetta, when he managed to escape.

No details of the escape or the captors were immediately available.

Fazal's son Jerry had told Reuters that a hand-written letter delivered to their home last week had asked Wilson to stop preaching Christianity. The letter was apparently sent by a group calling itself Mahaz-e-Jihad, or "Frontier of the Holy War".

Bhatti said police were still investigating.

About 70,000 of Quetta's population of 1.5 million are Christian.

They have largely lived in harmony with the Muslim population, even though the city is also home to hardline Islamic militants opposed to religious tolerance and the U.S.-led war in neighbouring Afghanistan.

In recent months, Quetta has seen a spate of deadly attacks on minority Islamic Shi'ites, the last of which killed 44 people.