KABUL — Two foreign university professors, one American and one Australian, were kidnapped at gunpoint Sunday evening near the Kabul campus of the American University of Afghanistan, municipal police officials said. Neither has been publicly identified.
This was the first reported abduction related to the private co-ed university, which is guarded and surrounded by high walls and has attracted numerous visiting instructors from the United States and other Western countries since it opened in 2004. About 1,700 students attend the school.
According to Kabul police early Monday, the professors were in a vehicle just outside the university when they were stopped and seized. An Afghan colleague and a driver were with them but they were not abducted, police said. Police said no group has made contact demanding ransom or claiming responsibility. Officials at the foreign and education ministries could not be reached early Monday morning. There has been no immediate comment from the U.S. Embassy.
The State Department said that it was aware of kidnapping reports but that "due to privacy considerations, we have no information to offer," Voice of America reported.
The abductions came three days after a group of Western tourists, including three Americans, was attacked by Taliban fighters while driving in a convoy across rural western Afghanistan. Five of the visitors were injured but all were safely evacuated to nearby Herat. A Taliban spokesman said they were targeted as “foreign occupiers.”
The same day, seven Pakistani civilians were taken hostage by Taliban fighters in eastern Logar province after their helicopter crash-landed. They are still in Taliban hands, and Afghan and U.S. officials have told Pakistan they will try to help rescue them.
In the Kabul incident, it was not known who carried out the kidnappings, and the Taliban have not claimed responsibility. Kabul is plagued by organized criminal gangs that stage kidnappings for ransom, both of wealthy Afghans and foreign visitors, and sometimes turn them over to the Taliban.
Dozens of international aid workers, construction contractors and other foreigners have been abducted by Taliban insurgents in the past decade. Some have been killed but most have been recovered.