Spanish Red Cross worker kidnapped at gunpoint in Afghanistan

Gunmen have abducted a Spanish employee of the Red Cross in northern Afghanistan, officials said on Tuesday, the latest in a series of kidnappings of foreigners in the conflict-torn country.

Spanish Red Cross worker kidnapped at gunpoint in Afghanistan
Archive photo of Red Cross convoy in Afghanistan. Photo: AFP

The abduction occurred on Monday when workers of the international charity were travelling in two vehicles from Mazar-e-Sharif city to the volatile Taliban hotbed of Kunduz.

“One male colleague was taken. The rest were let go,” the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement.

“We're extremely concerned for the safety of our colleague. We're doing our best to discover what precisely happened, and to secure his safe and unconditional release as quickly as possible.”

A diplomatic source in Madrid confirmed he was a Spanish national.    “We can say that a Spanish Red Cross worker is being held against his will in the north of Afghanistan”, the source told AFP, without offering other details.

No militant group has so far claimed responsibility for the abduction.   

Local authorities are investigating the incident, Kunduz government spokesman Sayed Mahmood Danish told AFP.    

Kunduz faces an intensifying Taliban insurgency as the militants in October overran its provincial capital for the second time in one year.    

Kidnapping of foreigners has been on the rise in Afghanistan recently, with criminal gangs staging abductions for ransom or handing the victims over to insurgent groups.

In August, gunmen wearing military uniforms kidnapped two professors of the American University of Afghanistan in the heart of Kabul, underscoring the growing insecurity in the country.

And in November, an Australian national was snatched from Kabul, just months after another citizen was rescued after being taken at gunpoint.

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Spanish police arrest man over alleged kidnap of daughter at gunpoint in Britain

Spanish police said Wednesday they have arrested an Algerian man who allegedly snatched his two-year-old daughter at gunpoint in Britain and fled the country with her.

Spanish police arrest man over alleged kidnap of daughter at gunpoint in Britain
File photo of a man in handcuffs. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP.

The 44-year-old was detained on a plane at Madrid airport during a scheduled stop en route to Oran, Algeria's second city, on August 1st, the same day he abducted his daughter in Nottingham, a police spokesman said.

The man, who had lost custody of his daughter, turned up at the house where she was staying “and took her by force after threatening the staff with a firearm and tying them up,” police said in a statement.

“Officers located and detained the fugitive in a plane which was about to take off. The girl was with him”.

British police said reports that the girl had been in a children's home were inaccurate and she was in fact taken from a family home.   

As part of the same investigation, British police have also arrested and charged a 43-year-old woman for child abduction, possession of a firearm, false imprisonment and aggravated burglary.

The girl was handed over to social services in Madrid until she can be returned to Britain, the Spanish police spokesman said.   

The man is waiting to appear before a judge in Madrid who will decide whether to extradite him back to Britain to face trial, he added.