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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 January 2008, 07:06 GMT
Afghan women stage rare protest
Cyd Mizell
Ms Mizell had been living in Kandahar for the past three years
Several hundred women have staged a rare demonstration in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar calling for the release of a kidnapped US aid worker.

The woman aid worker, Cyd Mizell, and her Afghan driver were abducted on Saturday by unidentified gunmen.

A Taleban spokesman said he could neither confirm nor deny that his group carried out the abductions.

Kidnappings are common in Afghanistan, although the abduction of foreigners is quite rare.

Rallies by women are rare in Afghanistan, and all the more so in the conservative southern city of Kandahar where 49-year-old Ms Mizell and her driver Muhammad Hadi were kidnapped from a residential neighbourhood.

Some 500 to 600 women, many wearing the burqa, gathered in a wedding hall on Tuesday for prayers and speeches calling on government officials to work for the captives' release.

'Very upset'

The director of the Kandahar Women's Association Rona Tareen urged Ms Mizell's captors to free her at once, saying she had helped many local women find jobs and market their embroidery work.

"Her kidnapping is against our culture and tradition. We demand the kidnappers free her immediately," she said.

Women protesting against the abduction in Kandahar
Protests by women are rare in Afghanistan

Another woman Bibi Nanai told the Associated Press news agency that she had taken permission from her husband to join the protest.

"I came from my home to show my support. We are very upset," she said.

Ms Mizell works for the Asian Rural Life Development Foundation, a Philippines-based organisation.

The provincial governor said the authorities are still searching for clues in the case.

The international director of Cyd Mizell's NGO said she had been living in Kandahar for three years, teaching English and embroidery at local schools.

Kidnapping of foreigners is quite rare in Afghanistan.

Last year Taleban rebels kidnapped 23 South Korean Christian workers and two German engineers. Two of the Koreans and one of the Germans were killed.

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