Gunmen kidnap French aid worker in Kabul

Image: An Afghan policeman stands guard at the site of an incident in Kabul
A police officer stands guard at the site of an incident in Kabul on Monday.Omar Sobhani / Reuters
/ Source: The Associated Press

Gunmen kidnapped a French aid worker off the street in Kabul on Monday and killed an intelligence agency employee who tried to stop the abduction, police said, the latest in a series of attacks against Westerners in the Afghan capital.

Three assailants tried to kidnap two French nationals, but after a scuffle they got away with only one, said Mohammad Daud Amin, a police commander in the neighborhood where the abduction took place.

"A resident tried to prevent this kidnapping. A kidnapper opened fire and killed him. They were able to kidnap one Frenchman," Amin told The Associated Press.

The Interior Ministry identified the resident as the driver of the intelligence chief of Panjshir province.

A witness, Mohammad Shafi, said the man lived in a house across from where the kidnapping happened.

"He grabbed the machine gun of one of the kidnappers, who opened fire, burning his hand. After that the kidnapper shot him three times in the chest," Shafi said.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said Taliban militants were not involved in the kidnapping.

Rise in abductions, shootings of foreigners
The abduction in broad daylight will add to the increasing anxiety felt by the international community in Kabul, which has seen a rise in abductions and targeted shootings against foreigners in recent weeks.

Kidnappings by criminal groups in Afghanistan have spiked over the last year because of the lucrative ransoms that are paid to free hostages. Wealthy Afghans are typically targeted in the kidnappings, crimes that are rarely reported in the media. The Taliban also kidnap Westerners and Afghans but those abductions typically take place in rural provinces.

Last month U.S. Special Forces freed an American citizen working for the Army Corps of Engineers who had been kidnapped and held for two months in Wardak province, one province west of Kabul.

But Kabul itself has also seen a spike in crime against Westerners. Last month a British-South African dual citizen aid worker was killed by Taliban gunmen while walking on the street. Two employees of the international shipping company DHL, one a British citizen and the other a South African, were killed by a gunmen outside their office.

Criminal gangs also kidnapped a former Afghan presidential candidate and the son of a president of a large Afghan bank. The two were rescued by Afghan intelligence officials.