The management of the American University of Afghanistan said that the university is expected to reopen today after being closed for a few days in the wake of the kidnapping of two teaching staff. Afghan officials said that one of the victims was Australian and the other was American, and that they were both abducted from a road near the university on Sunday evening.
In a statement that it posted on the internet yesterday, the university’s management said that the university had been closed since the incident whilst the security situation was reviewed. The university’s president Mark English said “We are devastated by the news and will remain vigilant to ensure the safety of all university personnel and students”. University officials are said to be in close contact with Afghan security agencies and foreign embassies in Kabul. The statement also said that “Everything possible is being done to ensure their immediate and safe return.” Both the US and Australian embassies confirmed that two members of teaching staff at the American University in Kabul had been kidnapped but neither embassy provided further details.
A number of Afghan citizens and foreigners have been kidnapped in the past few years. An Indian relief worker was freed last month after she was kidnapped from the centre of Kabul. At least two other foreign nationals were kidnapped in the capital last year and were then released. The fate of an Australian citizen remains unknown after she was kidnapped in the city of Jalalabad, eastern Afghanistan in April.
Elsewhere, Taliban fighters who launched a strong offensive in southern Afghanistan about ten days ago yesterday approached the capital of Helmand province. In a press statement that he made yesterday morning, General Mohammad Habib Hisaree, who is leading the Afghan army’s field operations, acknowledged that “the situation is indeed serious in Helmand, and fighting is taking place in a large number of regions”. A US military spokesman said yesterday that American forces in Afghanistan are supporting the Afghan army by carrying out regular airstrikes and that “The last strike was launched on Monday evening”.