Police confirm arrest of four suspects in German kidnap

20th December 2007, Comments 0 comments

Afghan police confirm the first arrests in the kidnapping case of a German national four days ago in Herat province, western Afghanistan.

20th December 2007

"In the course of the investigation we have arrested four men that we suspect to be involved in the kidnapping," said Herat police chief Mohammad Juma Adeel on Thursday.

Harald Kleber, 42, was abducted by armed gunmen Sunday in circumstances that remain unclear. Police have been conducting an intense search for the German, who changed his name to Abdul Rahman after converting to Islam.

Adeel said the abduction did not appear to involve the Taliban, suspecting a family dispute was behind the kidnapping.

There have been no demands from Kleber's kidnappers.

Earlier reports had speculated he might have been seized by tribesmen angered that he had married a local woman who had been promised to an Afghan man.

In Thursday's Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung, Afghan Trade and Industry Minister Amin Farhang was quoted as saying that those arrested were were relatives of the ex- fiance of Kleber's wife.

"We firmly believe that the Taliban have nothing to do with the case," Farhang was quoted as saying. "We hope that we will have (him) free again in two or three days."

A carpenter from the Bavarian town of Amberg, Kleber arrived in Afghanistan in 2003 to build schools for The Green Helmets, a German-based aid organization. He settled in Herat, converted to Islam and married an Afghan woman, with whom he has a child.

Kleber was the fifth German kidnapped in Afghanistan this year. German engineer Rudolf Blechschmidt was released on October 10 after nearly three months in the hands of Afghan kidnappers.


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