Seven Indian engineers along with a local colleague were abducted earlier this month in Baghlan province in Afghanistan. On May 6, the Indians and their Afghan driver were stopped by unknown gunmen while on their way to a project site and taken hostage.
The kidnapped engineers were working for KEC India on power projects for Afghanistan’s national electricity supplier, Da Afghanistan Breshana Shirkat (DABS), in Baghlan province, a key region for Afghanistan’s power supply grid.
Although no insurgent group has claimed responsibility, provincial governor Abdul Hai Namati told local media that officials were conducting meetings with tribal elders in the area to negotiate the release of the engineers. He added that they were in “talks with the Taliban to ensure the safe release of foreign engineers.”
Local reports suggest the men were being held in Dand-e-Shahabuddin area, which is known to have a heavy Taliban influence.
While Indian officials did not confirm any details, they did tell Asia Times that they were working to get the men released. “We are in touch with the Afghan government and concerned agencies and working towards a safe release,” an Indian embassy staff member said.
In Baghlan province, power projects and power lines that run through the region have come under heavy Taliban attacks in the last few months. Earlier this year, the Taliban blew up electricity pylons on two occasions, in March and April, leaving the Afghan capital of Kabul in darkness for days.
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