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Two Koreans rescued after being kidnapped in Afghanistan
SEOUL, Dec. 16 (Yonhap) -- Two South Korean construction workers were rescued after being briefly kidnapped by unidentified assailants in Afghanistan earlier this week, Seoul's foreign ministry said Thursday.

   The two Koreans, both supervisors at a road construction site in the northern Afghan province of Samangan, were kidnapped by four armed men at around 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 13 while traveling to their workplace in a vehicle along with one local driver and two bodyguards, ministry officials said.

   The five were taken to a remote mountain area but the driver escaped and reported the abductions to the local police, who rushed to the scene and exchanged gunfire with the kidnappers, they said.

   The kidnappers soon fled and the detainees were all freed two hours later at 4:30 p.m., the officials said, adding that it is unclear whether the kidnappers are Taliban insurgents.

   "Nothing has been confirmed about the identity and background of the kidnappers. It is known that Taliban insurgents are not operating in northern Afghanistan," said a ministry official.

   But Afghanistan's media, citing a police source, reported that the kidnappers of the Korean workers were identified as members of the Taliban.

   Following the incident, the South Korean embassy there and the concerned Korean contractor have suspended the road construction work and asked the local authorities for strong law enforcement efforts in the area.

   South Korea plans to complete construction of a base in the northern Afghan province of Parwan in February of next year for its Provincial Reconstruction Team workers and troops tasked with protecting them.

   ycm@yna.co.kr
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