BERLIN (Reuters) - Two Germans are missing in Afghanistan and may have been kidnapped, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said on Tuesday.
“I have to confirm that two Germans are missing and I cannot exclude the possibility that they are victims of a kidnapping,” Westerwelle said at a news conference broadcast on television.
A spokeswoman for the governor of the eastern Parwan province said earlier two German citizens, who had been exploring the region, were unaccounted for in the northern Salang district since Friday.
“Their driver came to the national directorate of security and informed (it) they did not come back,” governor spokeswoman Roshna Khalid told Reuters.
“We checked the area from a helicopter, sent forces there but there is no sign yet that they have been located,” she added. Officials in Parwan had asked local people who often go into the surrounding mountains to help security forces in their search, added Khalid.
Kidnapping is a lucrative business in impoverished Afghanistan and scores of locals and foreigners have been abducted by criminals with financial motives and by Taliban-linked insurgents in recent years.
Westerwelle declined to give any details about the identity of the individuals but said German officials were working with the relevant authorities in Afghanistan.
Germany has around 5,200 soldiers deployed as part of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters by telephone from an unknown location he had no information about the missing Germans for now.
Reporting By Madeline Chambers, Annika Breidthardt; Additional reporting by Mirwais Harooni in Kabul; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton