"We understand some guys accosted them and beat up the Afghan driver before taking the vehicle with the two Indian engineers and leaving the driver behind," says Louis Berger spokesman Mike Staples. "Before the attack, they had been offered an escort home but they turned it down."
The attack happened off the main highway in Section E (between Kandahar and Qalat), about 10km north of Shah Joi. Section E is a notorious part of the highway and has witnessed several ambushes on Louis Berger staff and contractors.
|(Map courtesy of Louis Berger)|
The Kabul-Kandahar highway is the largest single reconstruction project in Afghanistan and has been the target of repeated attacks over the last year by suspected Taliban and Al Qaida as well as other criminal groups operating along its route.
The security situation has worsened in recent weeks in the run up to the country's Loya Jirga (Grand Assembly) which is scheduled to start next week. This latest abduction comes as Louis Berger races to open the project's first phase by early next week.
A high profile ceremony has been planned, with President Karzai and senior government officials from Washington expected to be in attendance. On Dec. 7, Afghan Interior minister Ali Ahmad Jalali said that the Taliban commander who was behind the abduction of the Turkish engineer had denied any knowledge of this latest incident and offered his support in helping to find the two men.
Indian joint venture contractor BSC/C&C is responsible for paving an 85km stretch of the highway and had almost completed their contract when the two men were kidnapped. "The Indians were pretty much done with their work and were paving the last 4 kilometers of highway they had to do," said Myers. The Indian Embassy was unavailable for comment.
ABUL:Two more engineers have been kidnapped from the Louis Berger-led Kabul-Kandahar highway reconstruction project in Afghanistan. The Indian engineers were abducted on Saturday, just one week after the release of Turkish engineer Hasan Onal, who was also kidnapped by the Taliban at the end of October on the same stretch of road.