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INTERNATIONAL AID

Spanish aid worker kidnapped in Afghanistan

Two Red Cross vehicles attacked by armed men with criminals thought to be responsible

A Spanish Red Cross worker was kidnapped on Monday in Afghanistan by four armed men in Kunduz province while travelling with colleagues in two vehicles to Baghlan, Afghan police and the Spanish government have confirmed. Afghan authorities say first indications suggest that criminals, rather than terrorists are responsible. The Red Cross has not asked the Spanish government to intervene, saying it hopes to resolve the issue itself.

Food distribution in Afghanistan.
Food distribution in Afghanistan.Norimasa Tochibayashi (CICR)

 “The kidnapped Red Cross employee is Spanish and was captured at the village of Hussain-Khil in Ali-Abad district, in Kunduz province,” a spokesman for the Kunduz police force told Spanish news agency Efe, adding that the kidnappers had not been identified.

The Red Cross worker was singled out from the group he was travelling with after a fake roadblock was set up to ambush two vehicles travelling without an escort, said the International Committee of the Red Cross.

“We are very worried for the safety of our colleague,” said Mónica Zanarelli, the ICRC’s director in Afghanistan. “We are doing everything we can to discover what happened and hope he will be freed as soon as possible alive and well,” she added.

Kidnappings are frequent in Afghanistan, with aid organization employees usually held until a ransom is paid

In February, five Afghan employees of the ICRC were kidnapped in Ghazni province, in the southeast of the country. They were freed shortly after.

Kidnappings are frequent in Afghanistan, with aid organization employees usually held until a ransom is paid.

Last month, armed men kidnapped an Australian employee of the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief and Development (ACBAR) in a high-security area of Kabul.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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