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Page last updated at 14:11 GMT, Friday, 16 April 2010 15:11 UK

UN Afghanistan workers 'kidnapped by gunmen'

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Four Afghan United Nations workers have been kidnapped by armed men in Baghlan province, police have told the BBC.

They say that another local UN worker who is missing in the same area may also have been abducted by the gunmen.

Police spokesman Lal Muhammad Ahmadzai said that the four UN staff were travelling in two cars to an area called Bagh-e-Shamal.

He said that a police team has been sent to the region and that he was confident of securing their release.

Targeted before

Mr Ahmadzai said that a fifth UN worker - who is officially listed as missing - might have been picked up by the four prior to their abduction on Thursday.

THE UN IN AFGHANISTAN
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (Unama) - set up in 2002 - is the umbrella body for all UN agencies
Role is to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan focusing on humanitarian and political issues
Most UN agencies have a major presence in Afghanistan
Major areas of activity include reconstruction, food distribution, political outreach and elections
UN employs about 5,600 staff across Afghanistan
UN also works in partnership with hundreds of governmental and non-governmental organisations

UN spokesman Dan McNorton told the Reuters news agency that the five missing staff worked for the UN Office of Project Services. He said that all foreign staff were accounted for.

"The UN is currently working with the Afghan authorities to ascertain their current whereabouts and the exact circumstances of their situation," he said.

UN staff have been targeted by kidnappers in Afghanistan before.

In October five UN workers and three Afghans were killed by gunmen in an attack on a guesthouse in Kabul.

The attack was the deadliest on the UN in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 and prompted the UN to reduce its international staff in the country and the number of places where they are based.



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