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Taliban Kidnap Nine Westerners Including Ex-BBC Journalist, Former Afghan Vice-President Says

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Taliban Kidnap Nine Westerners Including Ex-BBC Journalist, Former Afghan Vice-President Says

Afghanistan’s former vice president Amrullah Saleh has claimed the Taliban has kidnapped nine Westerners.

One of the victims of the alleged kidnapping is said to be former BBC journalist Andrew North, who is believed to be working for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Saleh initially made the claims on Twitter, explaining he had decided to share the news due to 'no media', 'no reporting by citiziens and a suffocating atmosphere'.

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Afghanistan’s former vice president claims Taliban has kidnapped Westerners (@AmrullahSaleh2/Twitter)
Afghanistan’s former vice president claims Taliban has kidnapped Westerners (@AmrullahSaleh2/Twitter)

He said that for these reasons, 'corruption, crime and atrocities aren’t well exposed,' adding: 'As an example nine citizens of Western countries have been kidnapped - amongst them Andrew North of BBC & Peter Juvenal owner of Gandomak Restaurant. Talibs r liars [sic].'

The UNHCR released a statement seemingly confirming the news in part, though described the victims as having been 'detained', rather than 'kidnapped'.

On Twitter, the organisation wrote: 'Two journalists with UNHCR and Afghan nationals working with them have been detained in Kabul.'

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The UNHCR assured it is 'doing our utmost to resolve the situation, in coordination with others', adding: 'We will make no further comment given the nature of the situation.'

News of North's alleged kidnapping was apparently further confirmed by a BBC World Service source, according to Afghan media outlet Afintl, per The Independent.

Responding to the news about the former BBC journalist, Paul Danahar, executive editor of world news content for BBC News, said: 'Andrew North is working for the UN in Kabul. He is a former colleague and a respected journalist. All inquiries about his situation, which his friends and colleagues are obviously concerned about, should be directed to the UN.'

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North recently posted an article on his personal website in which he described his trip to a number of Afghan provinces and his experiences meeting with Taliban leaders.

Per The Mirror, the journalist described life in Afghanistan as being 'more complex' than media reports show, adding: 'The group once dubbed “Islamic Maoists” has not been quite as ruthless as many feared — so far. That came through clearly during several weeks in the fall I spent traveling around Afghanistan, meeting various Taliban figures and seeing the results in daily life. It all adds to a sense of malaise, with an ominous feeling of worse to come.'

The Taliban has not commented on the alleged abduction at the time of writing, February 11.

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Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: News, World News, UK News, BBC, United Nations

Emily Brown
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