(AFP) – Jul 16, 2008
HERAT, Afghanistan (AFP) — A German national kidnapped in western Afghanistan seven months ago may have been killed after a ransom was not paid, police said Wednesday.
The unknown abductors had demanded 50,000 dollars for the release of 42-year-old carpenter Harald Kleber, who was abducted in Herat province in mid-December.
"Based on some information we have received from intelligence sources, the German national has been killed because the ransom they demanded was not paid," said the police commander for western Afghanistan, Akramudin Yawar.
"Police are investigating to find his body and see if this is true."
The foreign ministry representative in the city of Herat, Homayon Kamgar, said there had been security reports that Kleber was dead.
The city's intelligence authorities were meeting Wednesday over the kidnapping on Monday of two Turkish nationals working for a construction company, and could not immediately be reached to confirm the police information.
Kleber had worked for a humanitarian organisation in Herat between 2003 and 2004, and then stayed on in the country.
Authorities said about two months ago that Kleber, who had married an Afghan woman, was ill.
A German prosecutor said in December that an arrest warrant had been issued for Kleber over allegations of computer fraud in his native country.
There have been numerous abductions for ransom in Herat, located about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the border with Iran and one of the most prosperous cities in Afghanistan.
Late last year, businessmen and professionals went on strike in the city for several days to protest a surge in abductions.
Kidnapping is also a threat in other parts of the country, with criminal gangs as well as Taliban-linked insurgents most often responsible.
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