Bangladeshi aid worker kidnapped in Afghanistan

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KABUL, Sep 16 (Reuters) Four gunmen in police uniform abducted a Bangladeshi aid worker in Afghanistan, a provincial governor said today, the latest in a spate of kidnappings of foreigners by Taliban insurgents and criminal gangs.

The man was taken from his office in Logar province, south of the capital Kabul, where he worked for the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC).

''He was kidnapped yesterday at noon by armed men, they also took 30,000 afghanis (600 dollar),'' Logar governor Abdullah Wardak told Reuters. ''We told them to have security guards, but they did not.'' He said four kidnappers disguised themselves as police, but it was not clear whether they were Taliban insurgents or criminals seeking a ransom.

''We can't deny it was the work of the Taliban, but there are also bandits and thieves operating with the Taliban insurgents. Our forces have been searching for the missing BRAC staff member, but so far we have no clues,'' Wardak said.

A Taliban spokesman said he did not think fellow militants had kidnapped the man.

Another Bangladeshi man working in the same office said four men dressed as police and two civilians seized his colleague and took him away in a police vehicle.

Taliban rebels have stepped up their campaign of kidnapping Afghans and foreigners this year, seizing 23 South Koreans in July and killing two of them before releasing the rest after more than a month.

A German man kidnapped in July is still being held by the insurgents who killed his German colleague after he suffered a heart attack.

BRAC has been active in Afghanistan since 2002, aiming to empower the poor with programmes in micro-finance, education, health and agriculture.

The Taliban have said they will kidnap citizens of the 41 foreign nations with troops in Afghanistan, but not citizens of other countries. Bangladesh does not have any soldiers in Afghanistan.

REUTERS SYU PM1805

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