MACEDONIAN SEIZED IN AFGHANISTAN, NEGOTIATIONS UNDER WAY
Negotiators are underway with the captors of four Red Cross workers, one of them, a Macedonian citizen, who were held in Afghanistan during a mission to free a German kidnapped by the Taliban.
The Red Cross workers did not return to Kabul on Wednesday after their mission in Wardak, where the 62-year-old German engineer and five Afghans were captured in July.
"We confirm that four ICRC staff members were seized by an armed opposition group on their way back to the delegation in Kabul in the district of Wardak, southwest of Kabul," ICRC spokeswoman Carla Haddad said in Geneva.
The expatriate staff were from Myanmar and Macedonia, while the other two were Afghan national employees, she said. The ICRC was in touch with "all parties" to resolve the situation swiftly, she said.
Contact had been made with the group that seized the men on Wednesday in the province of Wardak, about 50 kilometers from Kabul, and military action had been ruled out to free the men, an Afghan official told AFP.
"The Red Cross office advised us not use any military action for the safety of the kidnapped people and the issue must be solved via mediation through tribal elders," said the governor of Sayed Abad district, Anayatullah Mangal.
"We are in contact with the kidnappers via tribal elders and influentials," he said. Mangal has said previously it was not clear who was holding the four.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) did not say they have been kidnapped but that they have been detained and are expected to be freed soon.
"We are in contact with all the involved parties," spokeswoman Graziella Leite Piccolo said in Kabul.
The incident comes after a string of abductions of foreigners in Afghanistan, some claimed by the insurgent Taliban movement and some blamed on criminals seeking ransom. The Taliban has told AFP it is not involved in the disappearance of the Red Cross staff. However, a spokesman for Taliban insurgents told Reuters they had kidnapped the four men southwest of the Afghan capital Kabul on Wednesday, but would release them soon.
MD: This comes after a string of abductions of foreigners. The taliban did told Reuters that they would release them soon. We'll see...
Update 29/09/07 17:16 : All Red Cross hostages, including the Macedonian were freed earlier today.