Three Taliban members have been arrested by Afghan security forces in connection with the abduction of Indian aid worker Alexis Prem Kumar in the Herat Province four days ago, Afghan Interior Ministry said today.
Three of the Taliban members linked with the abduction of 47-year-old Kumar have been arrested and investigated for more information about the hideouts of the victim, Sediq Sediqqi, Spokesperson for the Afghan Interior Ministry said. However, he did not divulge more details and only said that police in Herat is doing their best to make sure the safe release of Kumar.
Meanwhile, Indian government is in constant touch at all levels of the Afghan government and local authorities regarding the case, officials said. The Spokesperson in External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi has already denied that Kumar had any connection with the Indian government amidst local reports here that the aid worker was associated with the Indian mission.
"He is an Indian national who was working with an NGO. He had no connection with the Indian Government or Mission or Consulate," 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.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the abduction. 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.
Meanwhile, in India, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa sought personal intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in securing Kumar's release, saying that he was on a "humanitarian mission" in Afghanistan when he was kidnapped and the incident has caused considerable anxiety to his family and friends in the state.
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.