Afghanistan’s intelligence service on Saturday announced that it has secured three kidnapped Indian engineers in a dramatic Friday night raid, hours before the men were to be trafficked across the border into Pakistan. The men, Afghan security sources told The Sunday Express, were kidnapped on August 13, while travelling through the Waghjan valley on their way to Kabul from Logar.
Indian diplomats in Kabul had few details on the three men, saying they had not been able to immediately verify the identities of the men. More details will be available on Sunday, the Indian Embassy said, after the men were handed over by Afghan authorities.
(A PTI report from Kabul said the three men worked for a firm called Oasis. The report quoted Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security saying that the Indians were being taken by the Taliban to Quetta.)
“None of the three apparently had any documentation on hand,” a Kabul-based diplomat told The Sunday Express.
“So we are at a bit of a loss, to be honest. The only information we have are first names, and claims that they hail from from Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Kashmir.
Mission staff spoke to one of the men, but his account was not very coherent.”
The official said no company or family had reported the kidnapping to the Indian mission, raising the prospect the rescued men may be undocumented workers, or private small businessmen, many of whom travel to Afghanistan.
Indian officials said, however, that the case flagged the high threat to the thousands of its citizens living in the country, often seeking work on highly paid, western-funded prospects. Earlier this summer, Alex Prem Kumar, a Catholic priest working with a Jesuit aid organisation, was kidnapped and remains in custody.
There are dozens of foreign workers, including aid volunteers, held both by terrorist groups and criminal gangs seeking ransoms. Three Indian civilian workers have been released after being taken hostage in Afghanistan, and two killed — a small part of the dozens from the international community who have been targeted.
In recent weeks though communities have organised to protect expatriate workers. Last week, community leaders organised the rescue of five other engineers, one reportedly an Indian, held in underground tunnels in the Tala Wo Barfak district of the province of Baghlan, police said. Two worked for the Energy and Water Ministry; three others were employed by the Ministry of Mines.
The market is considered the largest cloth market in Asia and it houses a number of textile units and factories.