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Taliban say kidnapped 4 Albanians in Afghan south

Written by: Staff
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KABUL, March 11 (Reuters) - Taliban insurgents today abducted four Albanian nationals in southern Afghanistan, a spokesman for the Islamic movement said.

The four people whose identities were not immediately clear, were kidnapped at gun point in Maiwand district in the southern province of Kandahar, spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf said.

''The four Albanians were travelling in two vehicles when our Mujahideen (holy warriors) kidnapped them,'' Yousuf said by satellite phone from an undisclosed location.

Government officials in Kandahar and in Kabul said they had not heard about the report.

Yousuf said the fate of the four will be decided by the Taliban's fugitive supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.

Taliban guerrillas have been fighting against foreign forces, the U S-backed government of President Hamid Karzai and anyone supporting it since U S-led forces overthrew the Taliban in late 2001.

In the past, insurgents have killed several foreigners, including a British national involved in road projects, after kidnapping them.

The Taliban and their allies, including fighters from Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, are mostly active in the southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan close to the border with Pakistan.

Nearly 70 foreign troops, most of them Americans, have been killed in the Taliban-inspired insurgency in the past year in Afghanistan, the bloodiest period since the Taliban were ousted.

U S-led forces invaded Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban government after its leader refused to hand over bin Laden, architect of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

REUTERS KD VC2145

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