Kabul: Seven Indian engineers of an RPG group company and an Afghan national working for a power plant in northern Baghlan province of Afghanistan were kidnapped early on Sunday by a suspected Taliban group. The Ministry of External Affairs are in touch with the Afghan government to track the developments.
Zabihullah Shuja, the Baghlan police spokesperson told News18, "Seven Indians and an Afghani national have been abducted in Baglan. They were engineers with an electricity company. No one has claimed responsibility so far but it seems Taliban is behind the act, we are trying to search them. Sources tell us that they are alive."
According to reports, local officials have confirmed that the seven people were employees of KEC International Ltd and were kidnapped while travelling to Pul-e-Khomre, capital city of Baghlan where the company is said to have an electricity substation contract. Afghanistan's power utility company Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) had signed an agreement with KEC to construct transmission lines in the war-devastated country.
KEC Board of Directors Chairman, Harsh Goenka appealed to the government to aid the workers. He wrote: Request @SushmaSwaraj and Ministry of External Affairs to help rescue 7 of our managers from the kidnapping in Afghanistan. #KEC
Speaking to News18, an MEA spokesperson said, "We are aware of the abduction of Indian nationals from Baghlan province in Afghanistan. We are in contact with the Afghan authorities and further details are being ascertained."
Baghlan Governor Abdulhai Nemati said the Taliban group took the engineers hostage and moved them to the Dand-e-Shahabuddin area of Pul-e-Khomri city, according to the report.
It quoted Nemati as saying that Afghan authorities spoke with the Taliban via local people and the terror group said it had abducted them, believing they were government employees.
Kidnapping of locals for extortions are common in Afghanistan. Rampant poverty and rising unemployment has worsened the situation, says a Reuters report.
A senior Indian embassy official said over 150 Indian engineers and technical experts are currently working across Afghanistan on large infrastructure projects.
"We are working out ways to ensure the release of our engineers," an official said.
In 2016, an Indian aid worker was kidnapped in Kabul. She was released after 40 days.
The Indian government regularly issues a security alert for Indians residing in Afghanistan and travelling to the war-torn country.
(With agency inputs)