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An Australian charity boss in her 60s has been kidnapped by armed men claiming to be intelligence agents in Afghanistan, her organization said Friday.
Katherine Jane Wilson is the founder and executive director of Zardozi, a non-governmental organization supporting female artists and entrepreneurs in the country, according to the charity.
Zardozi chairman Dominic D'Angelo told NBC News she was woken at 5 a.m. Thursday after two men came to the charity's office in the eastern city of Jalalabad where she was sleeping having traveled from Kabul a day earlier.
The men said they were from the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan's intelligence agency known as the NDS, according to D'Angelo, who is based in Kabul but has been receiving information from the organization's staff.
"The door-keeper opened the door, and the men produced guns and took her away," he said.
D'Angelo believed it was "highly unlikely" the kidnappers were actually Afghan officials, "given the existence of the organization, for 10 years operating out of Jalalabad."
The NDS and Ministry of Interior were not immediately available for comment.
D'Angelo said five Afghan members of staff who had traveled with Wilson had been taken in for questioning by the NDS after Wilson was seized. He believed these were genuine members of the country's intelligence service.
The organization has been in touch with the Australian embassy in Kabul, as well as Afghan officials, but has heard nothing of Wilson's whereabouts nor claims of responsibility.
Wilson had been in Afghanistan for 20 years and was the founder and executive director of Zardozi. Known to friends as "Kerry Jane," her age is listed as 63 in the company's records but D'Angelo said he believed she was actually 61.
She was due to fly back to Perth this weekend to visit her father, who is in his 90s, D'Angelo said.
"She was committed to the area and committed to helping Afghans to develop their economic empowerment," he added.