Hunt for kidnappers on as 63 deminers rescued
HEART CITY (Pajhwok): All 63 deminers kidnapped by unknown gunmen on Tuesday were rescued by security forces during a massive operation still ongoing in Pashtun Zarghun district of western Herat province, officials said.
The local employees with the British non-governmental mine-clearing agency, Halo Trust, were kidnapped earlier in the day by bike riding gunmen, who blocked the way of vehicles carrying them in Takak area.
They were rescued during a massive operation and a manhunt to arrest the kidnappers was still ongoing, Herat police chief Brig. Gen. Abdul Hameed Hameed told Pajhwok Afghan News.
Earlier, police spokesman Col. Abdul Rauf Ahmadi said six of the kidnapped workers had been rescued and a massive operation had been launched to free the rest.
Dr. Farid Humayun, country director of Halo Trust, told Pajhwok Afghan News the workers were seized in Marabad locality on the outskirts of the district headquarters.
He said the deminers were driven by the kidnappers in the direction of Ghazni province, adding he had approached local elders and provincial representatives seeking their help in securing the early release of the workers.
Situated in the central part of the province about 160 km away from Herat City, Pashtun Zarghun is among insecure districts.
The rescue effort went successful after security officials identified the location to which the kidnapped deminers were driven.
Rasheed Wahidi, the district’s acting administrative chief, put the number of deminers kidnapped between 40 and 50, citing preliminary information.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the incident. There are scores of mine clearance agencies working to clear Afghanistan of landmines and other ordnance left over from more than three decades of war.
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