ICRC says five aid workers seized in western Afghanistan

KABUL Sat Aug 16, 2014 10:21am EDT

KABUL (Reuters) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Saturday that five of its Afghan staff were kidnapped by a local armed group two days ago in the western province of Herat.

"The incident happened when the team was traveling by road in Herat province on August 14," said Marek Resich, an ICRC spokesman in Kabul.

He said the organization was working on multiple levels "to secure their safe return".

In a separate incident, the Taliban abducted 13 people on Friday who had been working to clear mines in central Ghazni province and were traveling to the capital, according to a local official.

"We have already spoken to elders in the area to use their influence and speak to the Taliban to release them," Shafiq Nang Safi, a spokesman for provincial governor, said on Saturday.

The latest spate of kidnappings underscores the ongoing dangers faced by both Afghans and foreigners working for development and aid groups across the country.

Last year, there were more than 230 attacks on the humanitarian sector in Afghanistan, according to the United Nations.

The Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS), which rescued three Indian citizens this week who had been kidnapped by the Taliban in Logar province, asked all foreigners to report to police before traveling in the country.

(Reporting by Krista Mahr and Mirwais Harooni in Kabul and Mustafa Andalib in Ghazni; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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