Japanese aid worker, driver kidnapped in Afghanistan

August 26th, 2008 - 3:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Kabul, Aug 26 (DPA) A Japanese aid worker and his Afghan driver were kidnapped Tuesday in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar, the police said.”The two men’s vehicle was stopped by a group of unknown gunmen in Badyalai village in Khewa district,” said a police official who did not want to be named.

“The Japanese aid worker and his driver were dragged out of their vehicle and were taken to an unknown location,” the source said.

Ghafour Khan, provincial police chief, also confirmed the abduction of Kazuya Ito and his driver near Jalalabad, and said police forces were deployed to the area to track down the kidnappers.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s abduction.

The Japanese foreign ministry, meanwhile, set up a task force in Tokyo and at its embassy in Kabul to deal with the case.

The government has not yet received any ransom request, but Japanese media reported that Peshawar-kai, the aid group the men work for, started negotiations with the kidnappers with the cooperation of local leaders.

Ito, 31, from central Japan, had been conducting volunteer work as an agricultural specialist for Peshawar-kai since December 2003.

The non-governmental organisation has been assisting in digging wells and building irrigation systems in the war-torn country.

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