Gunmen have stormed a guesthouse in the Afghan capital, Kabul, killing a female German national and a security guard. Authorities are investigating whether the attack was terror or crime-related.
The German Foreign Ministry has confirmed that a German woman was killed overnight Sunday in western Kabul.
Najib Danish, a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, told reporters that a Finnish woman had also been kidnapped and a private security guard shot dead in course of the same assault.
Several gunmen entered the guesthouse in Kabul's seventh district at around 11:30 p.m. local time (19:30 UTC) on Saturday.
Danish said an investigation had been launched, adding that it was not clear if there was a terrorist or other criminal motive behind the attack.
The German Foreign Ministry has long warned people not to travel to Afghanistan, though at the same time Berlin has pushed for the country to be listed as a safe nation of origin to allow for the return of migrants whose applications for asylum in Germany are rejected.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either the attack or the kidnapping.
Finnish NGO worker missing
The guesthouse belongs to Swedish NGO Operation Mercy, which works with refugees, the disabled, women and children across the region.
The German victim had lived in Afghanistan for a decade and began working with Operation Mercy in 2011, the NGO said.
Operation Mercy Director Scott Breslin told Swedish news agency TT that one of the NGO's employees was missing and that the group was holding a crisis meeting.
Karoliina Romanoff, a spokeswoman for the Finnish Foreign Ministry, confirmed that a Finnish citizen had been kidnapped but had no details to add.
In a statement, the ministry demanded "the immediate release of the kidnapped person."
Rise in abductions
Kidnapping has become a major problem in Afghanistan, usually affecting Afghan nationals who are abducted for ransom.
However, foreigners have increasingly become targets as well.
In some cases, foreigners have been abducted in Afghanistan to exert pressure on their governments.
Many aid organizations have moved their headquarters from central Kabul to the outskirts of the city for this reason and due to other security concerns.
Worsening security situation
Elsewhere in the country, at least 20 Afghan policemen were killed on Sunday as Taliban fighters stormed multiple security outposts in the southern province of Zabul. At least 15 others were wounded in the ensuing fight.
The coordinated attack is another blow to NATO-backed Afghan forces, just one month after the Taliban killed at least 135 security forces in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
Taliban insurgents have been escalating their annual "spring offensive" in recent weeks, showing a resurgence more than 15 years after they were ousted from power by the US-led invasion of 2001. US President Donald Trump is considering sending troops back into the country to help stabilize the situation.
ss, nm/cmk (Reuters, dpa, AFP, EFE)