- The Taliban arrested 18 people, including a foreign national, linked to a non-governmental organization (NGO) operating in Afghanistan.
- The Taliban implemented strict measures and imposed restrictions on Afghan women, including limiting their education beyond the sixth grade and preventing them from participating in public life and NGO employment.
- Since the Taliban seized power in the country two years ago, NGOs have faced intense scrutiny.
The Taliban have captured 18 employees, including a foreigner, from an Afghanistan-based non-governmental organization, the non-profit organization said on Friday.
NGOs have come under greater scrutiny since the Taliban seized control of the country two years ago. The Taliban introduced harsh measures and banned Afghan women from education beyond the sixth grade, as well as from public life and work, including working for NGOs. A US watchdog reported earlier this year that the Taliban were harassing NGOs operating in the country.
The International Aid Mission said 18 of its staff were taken away by the Taliban on two separate occasions this month from the NGO’s office in central Ghor province. The 18 arrested were taken to Kabul, the group said.
“We do not know the circumstances that led to these incidents and we have not been informed of the reason for the detention of our staff members,” it said in a statement. “The welfare and safety of our colleagues is of the utmost importance to us and we are doing everything possible to ensure their safety and secure their speedy release.”
Afghan officials were not available for comment.
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Local media, citing a spokesman for the governor of the province, Abdul Wahid Hamas, said the foreigner is a US citizen and that the staff were arrested for “propaganda and promoting Christianity”.
The reports did not identify the alleged American employee, and the NGO did not immediately respond to questions from The Associated Press.
The State Department said it was aware of reports of a US citizen being detained. He urged American citizens not to travel to Afghanistan because of armed conflict, civil unrest, crime, terrorism and kidnappings.
“Travel to all areas of Afghanistan is unsafe, and the risk of kidnapping or violence against American citizens in Afghanistan is high,” she said in a statement. “We have no further details to share at this time.”
The non-profit group, which is registered in Switzerland, says it only operates in Afghanistan.