A provincial leader in Afghanistan has said that five aid workers have been kidnapped in the extreme northeast of the country. Two foreign women are among the abductees; the kidnappers' identities are unknown.
Two foreign women and three Afghan colleagues doing aid work in northeastern Afghanistan were taken hostage Wednesday by unidentified kidnappers. An official in the Badakhstan province told the dpa news agency that it was possible that criminal gangs had carried out the kidnapping, hoping to secure ransom money.
"An African and a European woman working for the Med Air organization were traveling from Yaftal district to Ragestan district when armed men stopped their vehicle and took them hostage," Abdul Maroof Rakish, the provincial governor's spokesman, told dpa - also issuing similar comments to other agencies.
Med Air is a not-for-profit Christian NGO that aims to "seek out and serve the vulnerable women, children and men in crisis who live in often difficult-to-access regions in Africa and Asia and other areas with extraordinary need," according to its website.
The kidnapping is thought to have taken place roughly 90 kilometers (56 miles) north of the provincial capital Faizabad in the remote northeast close to the border with Tajikistan.
Government spokesman Rakish said the hostages might have been taken to the Shahr-e-Bozorg district in the mostly peaceful province.
Ten members of a volunteer medical team were found killed in August 2010 in Badakhstan.
msh/mz (dpa, AFP, AP)