"We are aware of the reports that an Indian national has been kidnapped near Herat," a state department spokesperson said when asked about the abduction of 47-year-old Prem Kumar, country director of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS).
"We are in touch with the Indian and Afghan authorities regarding this issue," the spokesperson said.
A native of Tamil Nadu, Kumar was working with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), an educational charity, as its Afghanistan Director and has been in the war-torn country for over three years. Before moving to Afghanistan, Kumar had worked for the JRS, serving Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu.
Kumar had accompanied teachers on a visit to a JRS-supported school for the returnee refugees in Sohadat village, 25 km from the city of Herat. He was kidnapped from the school as he was about to return to Herat, the JRS said.
The abduction comes nearly 10 days after the attack on the Indian consulate in Herat by four heavily-armed gunmen carrying rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns. The attackers were subsequently killed by the security forces who repelled the attack on May 23.
On May 29, the Indian mission in Herat had issued an advisory asking its nationals to exercise extreme caution while venturing out.
"We are deeply shocked by Prem's abduction. We are in contact with all the relevant authorities and doing everything possible to ensure his safe and speedy return," said Jesuit Refugee Service International Director Peter Balleis.
Headquartered in Rome, JRS is an international Catholic organisation with a mission to accompany, serve and advocate on behalf of forcibly displaced persons.