Taliban militants kidnap Afghans, Arabs in Afghanistan; NATO soldier wounded

By AMIR SHAH

Associated Press Writer

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Taliban militants kidnapped about 20 Arabs and Afghans in western Afghanistan and were holding six captive, while a suicide car bomber detonated his explosives next to a NATO convoy, wounding a soldier, officials said Tuesday.

The hostages were in the western province of Farah to hunt for rare birds when they were taken hostage by Taliban militants approximately two days ago, said Younis Rassouli, Farah's deputy provincial governor. They were robbed of their money, weapons and personal belongings, he said.

Four Afghans and two people from Qatar were still being held Tuesday, Rassouli said. The rest had been released.

Abdul Rashid, a spokesman for police in western Afghanistan, said a Taliban commander named Mullah Khodaidad was behind the kidnappings.

Earlier, Farah Gov. Muhaidin Baluch said the Taliban had kidnapped 11 Pakistani construction workers, but the other officials said no Pakistanis were among the group of kidnapped Arabs and Afghans.

The suicide bomb attack in Farah province wounded one soldier and damaged a NATO vehicle, said Maj. Richelle Dowdell of NATO's International Security Assistance Force. She did not identify the nationality of the wounded soldier.

Last year the Taliban launched more than 140 suicide missions -- the highest number since being ousted from power by the U.S.-led invasion of 2001.