Germany 2 citizens missing in Afghanistan

AP News
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Posted: Aug 23, 2011 8:45 AM
Germany 2 citizens missing in Afghanistan

Two Germans are missing in Afghanistan and may have been kidnapped, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Tuesday.

Local officials told The Associated Press that both men had been missing for four days.

Westerwelle told reporters in Berlin that German and Afghan officials are "intensively" searching for the pair.

"Two German citizens are missing and I cannot rule out the possibility that they are the victims of a kidnapping," he said.

Westerwelle refused to give any further details, but Gen. Sher Ahmad Maladani, police chief of Afghanistan's northwestern Parwan province, said both men were working for an aid organization.

He told the AP that the two traveled to the south end of the Salang Pass, north of Kabul, around 8 a.m. last Friday. He said they told their driver that they were going to go into the mountains and would return at 4 p.m. The driver waited there until 6 p.m. and then contacted local authorities to report that they had not returned, Maladani said.

"Since 6 p.m. Friday evening, we have been searching _ jointly with Afghan security forces _ but we have not been able to find them," Maladani said, adding that few residents live in the area.

He suggested that it is possible that the men were not the victims of a crime, but had maybe encountered other problems.

"It is not a Taliban area," he said. "It is one of the safest areas of Afghanistan, but there are other possibilities. These mountains are very high. Maybe they lost their way. Wild animals are another issue in these mountains and maybe they were attacked by animals. There is no one to ask."

The Salang Pass is a major route through the Hindu Kush mountains that connects the Afghan capital, Kabul, with the northern part of the nation.

Germany has been a major contributor to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan and currently has some 5,200 troops stationed in the country, largely in the north.

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Associated Press Writer Rahim Faiez in Kabul, Afghanistan, contributed to this report.