Kabul/New Delhi: Suspected militants have abducted an Indian female aid worker from Afghanistan s capital Kabul, Indian and Afghan officials said on Friday. The kidnapped woman is Judith D Souza, 40, working as a senior technical advisor on gender with the Aga Khan Developmental Network in Kabul, sources in New Delhi said. D Souza was kidnapped late on Thursday, the sources said.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for her abduction. The Indian embassy in Kabul is in touch with senior Afghan authorities and the government, the sources said, adding that officials in Delhi were also in contact with her family in Kolkata. They said all efforts are being made by the Afghan authorities to secure her release. The aid agency also confirmed to IANS that a "staff member of the Aga Khan Foundation" was abducted, but it did not name her.
"An investigation by the authorities has been launched, in conjunction with security officials and various partners. Every effort is being made to secure the safe release of the staff member," Aga Khan spokesperson Sam Pickens said in an email response. Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that she has spoken to D Souza s sister. "I have spoken to the sister of Judith D Souza. We will spare no efforts to rescue her," she tweeted. "She is your sister and India s daughter.
We are doing everything to rescue her. Please take care of your sick father," Sushma Swaraj added. Judith s family on Friday expressed hope that India and Afghanistan would act soon to have her released. "It happened in a different country. The government of that country should take steps. She liked the place as she said there was a lot of work to be done," Judith s sister Agnes D Souza told the media in Kolkata. "But if such a thing happens, who would want to go back? I am asking every channel to do their part. The government of India must do something and get my sister back. I want her back," she added.
Asked about Taliban involvement in the crime, Agnes said: "I don t know." Judith s family came to know about the development around 1.30 a.m. on Friday from the Indian embassy in Kabul. This is not the first time that an Indian aid worker has been kidnapped in Afghanistan. Taliban militants have mostly been blamed for the kidnappings. Many Indian establishments have also been targeted in the past in Afghanistan where New Delhi has pledged and made huge investments to rebuild the war-torn country.
The latest in a series of terror strikes on Indian interests in Afghanistan was on an Indian consulate on March 2. The abduction comes as the Indian embassy issued a security alert earlier last month for Indians residing in Afghanistan and travelling to the country.
"All Indians residing and travelling to Afghanistan are advised that the security situation in the country remains highly volatile. Terrorist attacks have taken place in the country against foreigners and are expected to continue. There is also the risk of kidnapping and hostage taking throughout the Afghanistan," the embassy statement warned.