Gunmen kidnap French aid worker on Kabul road

Gunmen kidnapped a French aid worker off the streets of Kabul Monday and killed an intelligence agency employee who tried to intervene, in the latest attack against Westerners in the Afghan capital.

Three assailants in a red Toyota Corolla blocked the roadway, then tried to grab two French aid workers on their way to work, officials said. After a scuffle they got away with only one, said Mohammad Daud Amin, a neighborhood police commander.

A witness, Mohammad Shafi, said the man who intervened lived across the way.

“He grabbed the machine gun of one of the kidnappers, who opened fire, burning his hand. After that the kidnapper shot him three times in the chest,” Shafi said.

The Interior Ministry said the dead Afghan was the driver for the provincial intelligence chief.

“A resident tried to prevent this kidnapping. A kidnapper opened fire and killed him. They were able to kidnap one Frenchman,” Amin told The Associated Press.

Etienne Gille, president of AFRANE, a French aid group focusing on education, said the kidnapping took place as a member of its staff and a man from a second French aid group were being driven from a residence rented by AFRANE to its offices.

“The car was blocked by another car that was driving the wrong way,” from which “an armed man emerged,” Gille told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. AFRANE's employee managed to escape, while the other aid worker was taken, he said.

Gille declined to provide the name or organization for which the kidnapped man worked but said he was in his 30s. The man, a French national, had been in Afghanistan about a week, Gille said, adding he believed it was his first time in the country.

The man's family has been informed, Gille said.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Frederic Desagneaux said French officials in Paris and Kabul were mobilized in order “to win the liberation of our compatriot as soon as possible.”

A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, denied Taliban involvement.

The abduction adds to the increasing anxiety felt by the international community in Kabul, which has experienced a rise in abductions and targeted shootings in recent weeks.

Kidnappings have spiked over the last year because of the lucrative ransoms that are paid to free hostages.