Afghanistan deputy minister abducted

April 16, 2014 - 8:19:57 am

KABUL: An senior Afghan government official was kidnapped along with his driver on his way to work in Kabul yesterday, an interior ministry official said.

Ahmad Shah Waheed, deputy minister for public works, was taken by gunmen at around 7.00am from the Khairkhana neighbourhood of the capital, said the official who declined to be named.

He did not elaborate, saying more information could harm efforts to recover the men.

Hashmatullah Stanikzai, Kabul police spokesman, confirmed the incident, adding: “Afghan police forces have launched a search to secure his release.”

The motive for the incident is not clear, but kidnapping of wealthy individuals for ransom is common in Afghanistan.

Wahid, who is in his mid-50s, studied engineering and road construction in Italy and has been deputy minister for four years. Before that, he worked in the ministry overseeing road reconstruction, official said.

“He is a very professional man and had no disputes with anyone,” he added.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for Taliban militants, said they had no knowledge of Waheed’s kidnapping.

The abduction comes as officials count votes from the April 5 election to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai.

Early results suggest former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, runner up in the 2009 presidential poll, is leading his closest rival Ashraf Ghani, but a run-off is likely.

Whoever emerges victorious facings a testing time as Afghanistan takes on the still-resilient Taliban insurgency without the support of Nato combat troops, who are pulling out this year.

“Last year, there were more and more kidnappings in Kabul,” said Shoib Nawabi, a businessman who was abducted in 2008 and held for nine days before his family paid a ransom.

Most foreign troops are preparing to withdraw from the country at the end of the year. 

Nato troops have trained a 340,000-strong national police and army force in Afghanistan to fight against the Taliban and secure the whole country, but day-to-day security remains a struggle.