A US civilian contractor was abducted by Taliban-aligned militants in Khost province on Friday, January 31. US government officials confirmed the incident on Wednesday, February 5. While no group immediately claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, the Haqqani network is suspected of conducting the operation. As of February 5, US security forces are carrying out search and rescue efforts in the region. Further details have not been released by US officials.
An elevated threat of kidnap against members of the international community, particularly US citizens, has been in place in Afghanistan for several weeks, focusing in Kabul City where the bulk of potential targets are located. Central, east, and southeastern regions are dominated by the Haqqani group, who are positioned close to the Pakistan border. The group has an experienced criminal network associated with kidnap for ransom and/ or political gain and has organized the abduction of US and other international citizens in the past.
Individuals in Afghanistan are advised to monitor developments to the situation, remain vigilant for militant activity, vary daily routines and do not share personal details with unknown persons, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
The security environment in Afghanistan remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.