SYDNEY (AP) — An Australian aid worker is believed to have been kidnapped in Afghanistan, Australian officials said on Friday, as her father issued a plea for her safe return.
Australia's government was working with Afghan officials to determine exactly what happened to Katherine Jane Wilson, who generally goes by the first name Kerry, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told reporters.
"The details of the reports are still being confirmed with the Afghan authorities but they certainly believe she has been kidnapped," Bishop said. "We are seeking to confirm all of the details but we are in communication with her family."
Ahmad Ali Hazrat, chief of the Nangarhar provincial council in Afghanistan, said Wilson was kidnapped Thursday morning in the eastern city of Jalalabad. It was not immediately clear who the alleged kidnappers were or what their motivation was.
Wilson, who is in her 60s, has been living in Afghanistan for years and runs Zardozi, an organization that helps support impoverished Afghan women by selling embroidered items they make.
Brian Wilson, who lives in the west Australian city of Perth, pleaded for his daughter to be returned safely, saying she had dedicated much of her life to improving the lives of women in the region.
"I feel extremely worried indeed," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. "But I presume she's a hostage and that they'll do their best to keep her alive and not harm her, simply because they want to have something or other in return and it's not very good having a dead hostage."
Bishop rejected any suggestions of Australia paying for Wilson's return.
"The Australian government does not, as a matter of policy, pay ransom for kidnappers," Bishop said.
Associated Press writer Amir Shah in Kabul contributed to this report.