Officials: 2 foreign doctors, 3 Afghans abducted

Two foreign doctors and their three Afghan colleagues have been kidnapped in a remote area in northeast Afghanistan, officials said Wednesday.

Abdul Maroof Rasikh, the spokesman for the governor of Badakhshan province, said it was unclear who kidnapped the five.

He said they were snatched Tuesday while traveling on horseback between Yaftal and Ragh districts about 90 kilometers (55 miles) from the provincial capital of Faizabad.

He said the five were employed by a nonprofit humanitarian organization.

The organization, Swiss-based Medair, said it had lost contact with its staff but considered this to be a "missing persons" case, spokesman Aurelien Demaurex said Wednesday. He told The Associated Press that reports that the staffers were abducted remained "unconfirmed."

Medair works in Afghanistan and other nations, providing emergency relief and rehabilitation, according to its website.

Deputy Governor Shams Ul Rahman Shams also confirmed the kidnapping. The identities of the five were not released.

Also Wednesday, the Afghan intelligence service said five insurgents were arrested before they carried out a suicide attack along a main road leading to the capital's international airport.

The would-be bombers were in a minivan loaded with 560 kilograms (1,200 pounds) of explosives when they were stopped at a checkpoint just after noon, the National Directorate of Security said in a statement. It said it was acting on a tip that an attack may be carried out in Kabul.

The intelligence service said the foiled attack was meant as a protest against a NATO summit in Chicago last week that discussed the future of Afghanistan. At the summit, the United States and its NATO allies forged ahead with plans over the largely stalemated conflict and withdrawal of combat troops by the end of 2014.

"The enemies of peace of peace and stability in Afghanistan had a plan to react to the decisions of the Chicago conference and carry out a suicide attack on the airport road," the statement from the National Directorate of Security said, "but before the incident took place the NDS was able to arrest them."

NATO said Wednesday that one of its service members was killed by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan. It provided no further details. The death brings to 27 the number of foreign troops killed this month and 159 so far this year.

On Wednesday, doctors in the northern province of Takhar reported what they described as case of mass hysteria at a girl's school in the provincial capital Taluqan. They said 125 students were brought to the main hospital complaining they were sick. All but five were discharged.

"We couldn't find any poisoning, we couldn't find anything in the water or food or air. We think that someone was feeling sick and it caused mass hysteria. Everyone started screaming and running around," said Habib Ullah Rustaqi, director of the Takhar health department.


Associated Press writers Patrick Quinn in Kabul and John Heilprin in Geneva contributed.