Gunmen kidnapped a burqa-clad American aid worker and her driver while they were driving through a residential section of southern Afghanistan's largest city early Saturday, a provincial governor said.
The two were stopped by gunmen inside the city of Kandahar around 8 am while the woman was being driven to work, said Gov Asadullah Khalid. He blamed the kidnappings on the “enemy of Islam and the enemy of Afghanistan.”
Several Westerners — including two German construction workers and two Italian journalists — have been kidnapped in Afghanistan in the last year, but this was the first kidnapping of an American in recent memory.
Traveling around Kandahar city has turned increasingly dangerous in the last year, as the Taliban insurgency has spread throughout southern Afghanistan. Western civilians who operate there often travel with armed guards and with extreme caution. The area is rife with Taliban militants and also with criminals linked to the country's booming opium poppy trade.
A Taliban spokesman said he had no immediate information that the Islamic militia was behind the kidnappings.
Khalid said the 49-year-old American was wearing a burqa when she was taken. She worked for the aid agency Asian Rural Life Development Foundation, he said.