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Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Monday, 22 September 2008 16:29 UK

Labourers abducted in Afghanistan

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At least 140 civilian labourers have been abducted in south-west Afghanistan by suspected Taleban insurgents, local officials say.

Farah province governor Rohul Amin said the workers, who had been constructing army barracks, were seized from three buses on Sunday.

Mr Amin said negotiations were continuing to secure their release.

Kidnappings are frequently carried out in Afghanistan but this would be the largest mass abduction so far.

The workers and their drivers were kidnapped in the Bara Boluk area, close to the Iranian border, as they were travelling to Herat, said Mr Amin.

"Negotiations are under way by elders to release the innocent workers. We want to solve this issue peacefully without involving the military," he said.

No one has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping but the Taleban are known to have been active in the area.

Mr Amin told the BBC that he blamed the Taleban for the attack.

The BBC's Quil Lawrence in Kabul says the labourers were beginning their journeys home for the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan next week.


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