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NEW DELHI: In what was billed as a case of mistaken identity by the local media, seven Indian engineers and an Afghan national were kidnapped by Taliban gunmen in Afghanistan’s northern Baghlan Province on Sunday. The gunmen reportedly mistook them for government employees.
The engineers were travelling to a government-run power station in a minibus when they and their Afghan driver were stopped and abducted, Baghlan police spokesman Zabihullah Shuja said. The engineers worked for Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat, which runs power-generating stations in the country. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the abduction, but Baghlan Governor Abdul Hai Niamati blamed “groups opposed to the Afghan government” and said efforts are on trace the engineers and negotiate their release.
“We are in contact with the Afghan authorities and further details are being ascertained,” the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said.“Abductions for ransom are common in Afghanistan,” a senior official who has served in Afghanistan told TNIE. “Now that winter is over and the ‘fighting season’ has resumed, you can expect more such incidents,” he warned.
Another official, however, said the timing of the incident was “significant, given that India and China recently announced they would work together in infrastructure projects in the country. This has rattled Pakistan, which opposes any Indian presence in Afghanistan. Now, the ISI-backed Taliban will find it difficult to attack Indian interests in the country for fear of annoying Big Brother Beijing.”