The Afghan Taliban released a video on Wednesday, January 11, showing two Australian and American hostages asking the US government to negotiate their release with their captors. In the video, the hostages - now known to be Timothy Weeks and Kevin King - say that unless they are exchanged for prisoners held at Bagram air field and at Pul-e-Charkhi prison, they will be killed.
Weeks and King, both professors at the American University in Kabul, were abducted by four Taliban militants while in their vehicle on Dar-ul-Aman Road in the capital Kabul on the evening of August 7, 2016. This appears to be the first reported kidnapping targeting employees of the private elite university in Afghanistan, which attracts numerous visiting fellows from Western institutions.
Kidnapping gangs are highly prevalent in Kabul; the American Embassy issued a travel alert in May 2016 warning Westerners of the very high risk of kidnapping in the country.
Individuals present in Afghanistan are advised to remain extremely vigilant and to report any suspicious objects or behavior.
As a reminder, some Western governments advise their citizens against travel to the country due to a high threat from kidnapping, terrorism, and frequent and widespread lethal attacks against Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, domestic and international political and civilian targets, and individuals working in the humanitarian and reconstruction fields. Travel to the country should only be undertaken with proper security protocols in place. .
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