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Last Updated: Monday, 17 December 2007, 15:25 GMT
German 'kidnapped' in Afghanistan
Rudolf Blechschmidt, German engineer taken hostage in Afghanistan
Rudolf Blechschmidt, a German hostage, was released in October
A German man who has gone missing in north-west Afghanistan has been kidnapped, local police say.

The man, who is said to be a carpenter who had converted to Islam, was seized by four armed men on Sunday, police officials said.

Some reports said that his wife and child had also been abducted.

About 3,000 German troops are based in northern Afghanistan as part of a Nato deployment, and at least 25 have been killed there since 2001.

Armed men

The aid agency Gruenhelme (Green Helmets) said the missing man was named Harald Kleber and had worked for the organisation between 2003 and 2004.

Local police also referred to him by his Muslim name, Abdul Rahman.

"We are very shocked and alarmed," Aiman Mazyek, founding member of the Gruenhelme, told the AFP news agency.

A spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry, Julia Gross, said that the authorities were trying to "get to the bottom" of reports of an abduction.

Afghan officials said that that the missing man had settled in Afghanistan and had a family there.

A local police chief said the incident may be linked to a family dispute related to the man's marriage to an Afghan woman.

Taleban insurgents and criminal gangs have kidnapped dozens of foreigners in Afghanistan this year.

The Taleban are accused of seizing two Germans south-west of Kabul in July. One of those was killed while the other was freed after nearly three months.

Afghan police also rescued a German aid worker kidnapped in Kabul in August, a day after she was seized by criminals.

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