KABUL (Reuters) -Afghan forces have surrounded a village where gunmen are believed to be holding a British man and his Afghan interpreter, kidnapped after a deadly attack on their convoy, a provincial official said on Saturday.
Gunmen seized the unidentified Briton, who was working on security for a road project in the west of the country, and his interpreter after ambushing them and killing three police escorts on Wednesday.
"ANA forces have completely surrounded the area and coalition forces have set up checkpoints on every single route," the governor of Farah province, Izatullah Wasifi, told Reuters, referring to the U.S.-trained Afghan National Army.
Taliban guerrillas, who have not been known to operate in force in the west, say they kidnapped the British man. The Interior Ministry says criminals were responsible although they might be working for the Taliban.
A Taliban spokesman said a Taliban council, or shura, would decide the British man”s fate on Saturday. The spokesman, Abdul Latif Hakimi, has denied holding an Afghan interpreter.
Wasifi said the gunmen and their hostages are believed to be in a remote mountain village called Zerkoh Balabaluk.
He said on Friday a delegation of tribal elders was being gathered to go to the village and talk to the gunmen but on Saturday, when asked if the delegation had set off, he said no progress had been made.
He declined to elaborate but said the kidnappers had not issued any demands.
The Wednesday attack took place on the main road between the southwestern city of Kandahar and the western city of Herat.
Wasifi said he did not know who the kidnappers were but they might be Taliban.
Neither the government nor the British embassy in Kabul have released the man”s name but the Taliban spokesman identified him as David and said he had suffered a slight hand wound.
The private U.S. security company guarding construction teams in the west of the country, U.S. Protection and Investigations, has declined to comment.
Nearly four years after U.S.-led forces forced the Taliban from power, security remains a major problem in Afghanistan.
Taliban guerrillas are battling about 20,000 U.S. troops, mostly in the south and east. About 10,000 NATO-led peacekeepers operate mostly in Kabul, the north and the west.