Taliban said to be holding an American and other Western citizens in Kabul

Taliban said to be holding an American and other Western citizens in Kabul

Taliban authorities are holding at least nine foreigners in custody in Kabul — including one American and several British citizens — according to relatives and other people familiar with their situation, inflaming tensions with the West at a time when Afghanistan desperately needs international aid.

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Among those arrested are two journalists: a British reporter and an Irish photographer who were in Kabul on assignment for the United Nations’ refugee agency, UNHCR. They were detained this week in Kabul, along with an Afghan journalist and an Afghan driver with whom they were working.

One of those detained is Andrew North, a British freelance journalist formerly with the BBC. His wife, Natalia Antelava, on Friday appealed for his release: “We are extremely concerned for his safety and call on anyone with influence to help secure his release,” she said on Twitter. The U.N. is leading efforts to free the journalists.

Seven other Westerners have been detained in Kabul since December. One of them is American, and the remaining six are British citizens, including one U.S. permanent resident. They were taken into custody separately, and face unspecified accusations.

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.

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