Germans missing in Afghanistan were kidnapped

The 2 men went missing near Salang Pass earlier this month after setting out to go climbing in Hindu Kush range.

Kabul: Afghan officials believe that two German men who vanished after going mountain climbing north of the capital Kabul were kidnapped by insurgents, they said on Monday.

The two men went missing near the Salang Pass earlier this month after setting out to go climbing in the famous Hindu Kush range.

Confirming they had disappeared, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said last week that there were "indications that they may have been the victims of a kidnapping".

But Sher Ahmad Maladani, police chief of Parwan province which lies in the area from which the pair went missing, said local officials now had a clearer picture of what had happened after days of intensive searches for the pair.

"We know that they were abducted by insurgents," Maladani said.

"I can`t give you details but very soon I might be able to provide more information," he added.

No group has claimed responsibility for kidnapping the pair but dozens of foreigners have been taken captive in warring Afghanistan in recent years, with most released unharmed, often after the payment of a ransom.

Meanwhile, a senior Afghan intelligence official speaking on condition of anonymity said that the men had been seized by a non-Taliban insurgent group.

The official claimed that the German military contingent in the northern province of Kunduz had established contact with the kidnappers and that German forces were involved in the search.

The German military in Afghanistan did not immediately respond to efforts to contact them for comment.

The Afghan source added that the hostages were being moved "from village to village and from one to place to another".

"One time we were very close to freeing them but when we moved to the area, they had already been moved," he said.

Afghanistan is highly unstable and gripped by a ten-year insurgency which started when the Taliban was ousted from power by a US-led invasion in 2001.

Germany provides the third-largest contingent of foreign troops in Afghanistan, with some 5,400 soldiers in the north under NATO command.

Bureau Report

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