KABUL Insurgents have kidnapped two French journalists, their translator and driver northeast of the Afghan capital, a police official said on Thursday.
Kidnapping has become a lucrative business in Afghanistan both for Taliban-led insurgents and criminal groups with largely financial motives.
The latest abductions happened on Wednesday when the French journalists were driving through Shinkai district of Kapisa province, 120 km (75 miles) from Kabul, Provincial Police Chief Matiuallah Safi told Reuters by phone.
"Two French journalists, their translator and driver were kidnapped by anti-government elements," Safi said, adding that he did not know who was behind the abduction.
France 3 television in Paris said one of its film crews had gone missing while preparing a story about the construction of a road in the region. "We have had no news from the team for 48 hours," a spokesman at France 3 said.
Both the Taliban and loyalists of another insurgent leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, operate in rugged Kapisa. French troops are also stationed there as part of the NATO-led force in Afghanistan.
Police were in contact with villagers in the area for any information, but no contact had been made with the abductors, Safi said. He did not know the identity of the French pair or their news organization, but said both were male.
In the past, both criminal gangs and Taliban have freed many hostages after ransom or as part of a prisoner swap deal, but have also killed a number of foreign and Afghan captives, saying that their demands had not been met.
The French Foreign Ministry in Paris confirmed that two French journalists and their Afghan helpers had gone missing in so far unexplained circumstances.
"Nothing can be ruled out. In both Paris and Kabul, all efforts are being made to locate our compatriots as soon as possible," the ministry said in a statement.
(Reporting by Sayed Salahuddin and Laure Bretton in Paris; Editing by Nick Macfie)