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2 French aid workers kidnapped in Afghanistan

Two French humanitarian workers were kidnapped at gunpoint Friday in Afghanistan and spirited out of the house they were sleeping in, the aid group Action Against Hunger and the French Foreign Ministry said.

The two are believed to be alive, the Paris-based group said in a statement.

Also Friday, explosions were reported in Helmand province and Kabul.

A Friday morning blast in Helmand province's Nava district killed three guards and wounded four, said provincial police chief Mohammad Hussein Andiwal.

Later Friday, Mohammad Nasim, a police official in Kabul, reported that an explosion in the western part of the capital had damaged property, including a mosque, in a residential neighborhood. There were no reports of casualties.

The blast occurred near an office of the Afghan Millat, or Afghan Nation, political party, but it was not clear whether there was any link.

The bombings and kidnappings come amid concern that the Taliban-led insurgency is gaining momentum seven years after the hard-line Islamic regime was ousted by a U.S.-led invasion.

In response to the increased bloodshed, Pentagon leaders have said they are looking for ways to send additional troops to Afghanistan this year.

The two French aid workers were abducted from their house in Nili, in the central Afghan province of Day Kundi, Action Against Hunger said.

The aid group said it was working to win the workers' release and suspended its activities in Afghanistan in response to the kidnapping. The group has been working in Afghanistan since 1979 and has 10 foreign staffers and about 150 locals working in the country, according to its Web site.

France's Foreign Ministry said a crisis unit would be set up to help win the hostages' release.

Also Friday, an Afghan police official alleged that U.S. soldiers wounded a suspected bomber as they took custody of her from Afghan police.

Gen. Khan Mohammad Mujahid, police chief in central Ghazni province, said the woman and a 12-year-old boy were taken into Afghan custody Thursday evening in Ghazni city.

Mujahid said the woman lunged at one of the U.S. soldiers, prompting the gunshot.

U.S. military officials did not comment.

The two suspects were carrying explosives and a map marked with the governor's residence, according to a spokesman for the governor.

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