x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Kidnapped Afghan diplomat released

Afghanistan's former ambassador to Pakistan has been released after being kidnapped in Pakistan's city of Peshawar two years ago.

KABUL // Afghanistan's former ambassador to Pakistan, seized by gunmen two years ago in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, has been released and is back home safe, the president's office said Sunday.

The diplomat, Abdul Khaliq Farahi, was freed in eastern Afghanistan late Saturday in a joint effort by officials from both countries and has returned to Kabul, where he met Sunday with President Hamid Karzai, his office said. A brief statement gave no details on how he was freed.

Also on Sunday, insurgents set fire to a convoy of NATO fuel tankers in eastern Afghanistan, and a series of bomb blasts in the south killed a NATO service member and two civilians.

Farahi was heading from the Afghan consulate toward his home in the border city of Peshawar on Sept. 22, 2008, when gunmen stopped the vehicle and killed his driver.

"Abdul Khaliq Farahi is in good condition and right now he is in Kabul with his family," Karzai's office said.

The NATO service member was killed in an explosion in southern Afghanistan. The international military coalition did not provide further details or the nationality of the dead service member.

The civilians were killed in a separate explosion in the Spin Boldak district of Kandahar province, just east of the Pakistan border, said district government chief Abdul Ghani. The bomb was attached to a motorcycle parked in the main market, he said. The blast injured more than 10 people.

The convoy attack started in the early morning. A group of gunmen rushed the trucks in Behsud district of Nangarhar province - the same area on the edge of Jalalabad city where a group of would-be suicide bombers tried to storm a NATO base on Saturday, said Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a spokesman for the provincial government.

The drivers of the trucks quickly fled and the insurgents set 12 tankers ablaze, said Abdulzai. Firefighters worked to quell the flames throughout the morning, as police secured the area. No one was killed in the attack, Abdulzai said.

Insurgents on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border have routinely struck NATO supply convoys - including in a pair of attacks on Oct. 6 in which 55 fuel tankers were set ablaze in Pakistan. The alliance says the attacks have not caused supply problems for troops.

Also in Nangahar province, a bomb placed in a wheelbarrow exploded in the provincial capital of Jalalabad, killing one civilian and injuring nine other people, including six children and two women, the Interior Ministry said.