Several hundred Afghan widows have gathered in Kabul to demand the immediate release of a Italian aid worker Clementina Cantoni, who was kidnapped yesterday. She had been helping them and thousands of other impoverished widows support their families. A criminal group’s reportedly contacted the Kabul police saying it had kidnapped the Italian, and demanding the release of several criminals in exchange for her freedom.
Jawed Ludin, spokesman for President Hamid Karzai, says that is a possibility. The 32-year-old from Lombardy has worked in Afghanistan for three years, with the CARE International aid agency. Its local director says men armed with Kalashnikovs smashed the window of the car she was in and drove her away in another vehicle.
Aid agencies have issued warnings to staff in recent weeks following two unsuccessful attempts to kidnap foreigners. Embassies have also urged vigilance. Last October three UN workers were kidnapped in Kabul and held for 27 days before being released unharmed. Kabul authorities say the gang of criminals who carried out that abduction may have been involved in Clementina Cantoni’s kidnapping.