International

U.S. Embassy in Kabul issues warning after kidnapping bid

Kabul

KABUL: Embassy of the United States in Kabul has warned about kidnapping of foreign nationals after an American citizen escaped an abduction bid in the Afghan capital.

The embassy, on its website, stated that the threat of kidnapping and hostage taking continues to be very high in the city. It also stated that the abduction attempt targeted expatriates who were riding in transportation provided by an aid group.

The kidnapping attempt came days after an Australian aid worker, identified as Katherine Jane Wilson, was abducted in Jalababad. Her family and the Australian authorities stated that she was serving in the country for nearly 20 years.

Embassy has instructed the U.S. nationals to “avoid predictable travel patterns within Afghanistan.” The embassy advised people to “review your personal security plans, take appropriate steps to enhance your personal safety, remain aware of your surroundings, monitor local news for updates, and maintain a high level of vigilance.”

Two German nationals for GIZ, a man and a woman, along with a Dutch worker have been kidnapped as well. There are rumors regarding abduction of other Westerners but they have not yet been confirmed by their respective embassies.

The aid group that was not identified, but is considered to be a major American organization.

Two other U.S. national were kidnapped in 2012 as Caitlin Coleman disappeared with her husband Joshua Boyle while vacationing in Afghanistan.

The Afghan police believe that ransom is the reason behind the kidnappings and is carried out by criminal gangs. Several of the abducted persons have been released but it is unknown whether ransoms were paid or not.

Afghan citizens employed in aid groups are abducted frequently but are released unharmed after successful negotiations with community leaders and the kidnappers. Five Afghan employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross, kidnapped from Ghazni Province in February, were released after four days.

However, five Afghan nationals working for the Save the Children charity were murdered after being kidnapped. Canada’s Colin Rutherford was freed after being kidnapped for five years.

Foreign nationals have mostly being kidnapped in Kabul’s Taimani neighborhood, where the homes and offices of foreign aid workers and journalists are located.

However, Fraidoon Obaidy, the head of criminal investigation department of Kabul police, stated that the incident was a carjacking bid.

Obaidy said that the suspects behind the kidnapping of one German national were arrested and no ransom was paid. The second German national was abducted from Kunduz and was also released.

Former Kunduz governor Mohammad Omar Safi stated that a ransom of $1.5 million was paid for the release of the German aid worker and were demanding more money. He added that the second GIZ employee was abducted in retaliation.

The governor said that he does not know whether if any ransom was paid for releasing the second German worker.

GIZ spokesperson Oliver Hanschke refused to comment and said that the company does not comment on the abduction of its employees.

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