20 Koreans abducted in Afghanistan: governor

July 21, 2007 - 0:0

KABUL (AFP) -- About 20 South Koreans traveling in a bus in southern Afghanistan have been abducted by ""terrorists"", a governor said Friday, in the latest kidnapping of foreigners in the insurgency-hit country.

Confirmation of the kidnapping in Ghazni province came after the South Korean Foreign Ministry told journalists in Seoul that it was ""highly likely"" the South Koreans including women had been snatched. A Taleban spokesman could not immediately confirm the abduction of the South Koreans. The group has also not confirmed or denied the kidnapping of the two German nationals and their Afghan colleagues on Wednesday. ""They were traveling in a bus. They were kidnapped by terrorists yesterday (Thursday),"" said Ghazni provincial governor Mirajuddin Pattan told AFP Friday. The governor expressed anger at the presence in his part of the country of such a large number of foreign nationals, who are often prime targets for Taleban militants and also criminals. ""They must have thought they are in Korea, not in war-torn Afghanistan. They did not contact us, police or the security forces for protection while traveling in this region,"" he said. Police confirmed they were not warned Koreans were in the troubled area. ""They did not inform police about their presence in the area. We have found their empty bus and police have launched a major search operation in the area,"" provincial police chief Ali Shah Ahmadzai told AFP. Taleban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi said there was no confirmation of the extremist group's involvement. ""We are still trying to establish contacts with our men in the province, at this stage we cannot confirm or deny any of the abductions,"" said Ahmadi. South Korea's foreign ministry said in a statement that it had ""obtained an intelligence report that the South Koreans were abducted by Taleban insurgents this morning and are now trying to confirm it through various channels."" ""Considering a variety of circumstantial evidence, chances are high that the report is true.""