American, Australian University Lecturers Kidnapped in Afghanistan

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Investigators in Afghanistan are searching for an American and an Australian who were kidnapped in western Kabul, the city’s police chief told CNN.

Afghan security guards keep watch from a tower of hotel after a powerful truck bomb -- targeting a hotel used by foreign contractors -- exploded on the outskirts of Kabul on Aug. 1, 2016. (Credit: WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Afghan security guards keep watch from a tower of hotel after a powerful truck bomb — targeting a hotel used by foreign contractors — exploded on the outskirts of Kabul on Aug. 1, 2016. (Credit: WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)

The two men, lecturers at the American University of Afghanistan, were kidnapped Sunday evening when two gunmen stopped the car they were riding in, an Afghan security official told CNN.

One assailant broke the passenger-side window with his gun and took the two men away. A driver and bodyguard were left unhurt, the official said. The kidnappers were wearing military uniforms, the official said, but not the design and color of the official Afghan army uniform.

There has been no claim of responsibility.

The US Embassy in Kabul confirmed that an American citizen had been kidnapped near the university.

Embassy security officials are working with Afghan law enforcement and the school to assist in the investigation into the kidnapping, embassy spokeswoman Susan C. Doman said.

Officials at the university could not be immediately be reached for comment.

On its Twitter account, the school describes itself as “Afghanistan’s only private, independent and not-for-profit university.”

The school said on its Facebook page that its Kabul campuses will remain closed Monday and Tuesday but did not explain why. Regional centers are operating as normal, the Facebook page said.

Attack last week injured tourists

The incident comes after six tourists were injured in western Afghanistan Thursday when a rocket struck the vans they were traveling in. The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack, which occurred in Herat province.

The tourists were from the United States, Ireland, Britain and Germany.

Many countries, including the US and UK, have longstanding travel advisories warning against all but essential travel to Afghanistan due to the security situation throughout the country.

Two foreign aid workers with the International Assistance Mission were killed in the city of Herat in 2014.

Heightened security fears

Violence has erupted across the central Asian country this spring and summer.

And a rash of kidnappings and Taliban bombings have heightened security fears in Kabul. US and other diplomats have been barred from traveling by road the short distance from the city’s international airport to their diplomatic missions. Instead, they’ve been ferried by helicopter.

ISIS claimed a suicide attack July 23 in Kabul that killed at least 80 and wounded more than 200 during a protest by the Hazaras, a Shia minority group. The Hazaras are a Persian-speaking people who mainly live in central Afghanistan.

On June 30, the Taliban claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings on a convoy of buses carrying newly graduated Afghan police officers just west of Kabul. The attack killed 30 officers and four civilians and wounded 60, Musa Rahmati, the Paghman District chief, said at the time.

The group also claimed responsibility for an attack June 20 on a bus full of foreign security contractors, which killed at least 14 and wounded eight, said Seddiqi, the Interior Ministry spokesman. Most of the victims were citizens of Nepal.

On June 5, Taliban gunmen shot up an Afghan court and the group claimed credit for killing seven people, including prosecutors and judges. The terrorist group said it was retaliating for the execution of six of its fighters.

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