Two more Indian nationals of the seven who were kidnapped by suspected Taliban gunmen — in Afghanistan in May 2018 — have been released and returned to the country on Tuesday, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
Seven Indians working with Indian power firm KEC International Limited were kidnapped in northern Baghlan province on May 6, 2018, and six of them have been released so far. The MEA statement came a day after Indian and Afghan political leaders and diplomats spoke to each other. The issue of their abduction has been a part of the conversation between leaders and officials of both sides in the last two years.
In a statement on Tuesday, the MEA said, “Two Indian nationals, who were released from captivity in Afghanistan on 31 July 2020, returned to India today… Six Indian nationals have now been released so far from captivity… We thank the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for their constant and unwavering support in securing the release of the Indians.”
The seven men were working on power projects run by the Afghan government when they were abducted. One of them was freed in March 2019 while three more were released last October.
While no group had claimed responsibility and the Taliban has not said anything on the issue so far, Baghlan Governor Abdulhai Nemati had, soon after the abduction, said that a Taliban group was behind the abduction. Nemati was quoted as saying that Afghan authorities had spoken with the Taliban group, via local people, and had been told that the KEC employees had been mistaken for government staff.
According to local reports, the KEC employees were abducted by armed men in Bagh-e-Shamal village of the provincial capital Pul-e-Khomri, while they were travelling to the area where KEC has a contract to operate an electricity substation.
On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had discussed the evolving security situation in the region against the backdrop of a spike in terrorist violence in Afghanistan.
The two leaders had a phone conversation and exchanged greetings on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha. Ghani thanked Modi for timely supply of food and medical assistance to meet Afghanistan’s requirements, according to an official statement.
The phone conversation coincided with a meeting in Kabul between Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib and Indian ambassador Vinay Kumar.