A US contractor was kidnapped by a Taliban aliened militant group in the eastern Khost province of Afghanistan last Friday, January 31, US official told Newsweek, an American weekly news magazine.
The militant group have kidnapped US national Mark R. Frerichs, 57, who is a former US Navy diver and the managing director for International Logistical Support, a US government contractor. Citing its official source, the magazine reported that Frerichs had regularly traveled to Afghanistan since 2012.
“While no group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, US officials believe the Taliban aligned Haqqani network orchestrated the operation,” the American weekly stated, adding that joint efforts were underway by US Department of State and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to locate and recover the US citizen.
According to the magazine, ground and intelligence-gathering operations conducted by US forces to track the whereabouts of Frerichs have not produced result yet due to severe winter weather and difficult topography of Afghanistan.
“The welfare and safety of US citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State,” Holy Jensen, a spokeswoman for the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell – a multi-agency team based at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., was quoted as saying. She, however, expressed “no further comment” regarding Frerichs kidnapping.
The incident comes after US President Donald Trump, in his State of the Union address to US Congress on Tuesday, renewed his pledge to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan.