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Mountain climbers go missing in Afghanistan

The Local · 23 Aug 2011, 13:55

Published: 23 Aug 2011 13:55 GMT+02:00

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"I must unfortunately confirm that two German nationals have gone missing in Afghanistan," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters.

"There is an intensive search for them under way. We are following up on indications that they may have been the victims of a kidnapping."

The pair vanished close to the Salang Pass, a major route through the Hindu Kush mountains connecting the capital, Kabul, to northern Afghanistan. One local official suggested they might have been abducted by nomads. Taliban insurgents are not thought to be active in the relatively peaceful area where they vanished, just north of the capital Kabul.

Dozens of foreigners have been taken captive in Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led invasion ousted the Taliban from power, sparking a deadly insurgency, but most have been released unharmed, often after the payment of a ransom.

Germany forms the third-largest contingent of foreign troops in Afghanistan, with some 5,400 soldiers in the north under NATO command. An international conference on Afghanistan is due to take place in Bonn, Germany in December.

"We are aware that two Germans have gone missing somewhere between Baghlan and Parwan provinces. We are investigating the incident," said Interior Ministry spokesman Siddiq Siddiqui.

The chief of Parwan police said the pair were both men.

"According to our reports, the two German nationals went missing in the mountains of north Salang area on Friday," Sher Ahmad Maladani told news agency AFP.

"They had not informed police about their destination, they had left their driver and had climbed the mountains. Late in the Friday, the driver informed us that the Germans had not returned from the mountains."

Siddiqui, however, said the pair went missing two days ago.

Afghanistan is prized for its spectacular mountains, which offer remote trekking and mountaineering to extreme sports fanatics or aid workers already working in the poverty-stricken country.

Maladani said insurgents were not active in the mountainous area, which is snowy for most of the year. He added that a massive search by Afghan police, army and intelligence forces was under way.

But the governor of Parwan province, Abdul Basir Salangi, said he suspected the men may have been kidnapped by Kuchi nomads.

"There are some Kuchi people present in the area in which the two Germans disappeared," he said. "We suspect that these Germans have been kidnapped, we have detained a number of Kuchi men on suspicion of this."

Story continues below…

Nomads from the Kuchi tribe are ethnic Pashtuns and a common sight on roads

in the area, travelling around with large herds of goats and camels.

Westerners are occasionally kidnapped in Afghanistan but are often released unharmed.

Two French journalists who spent 18 months in captivity were freed in June in exchange for what experts and Taliban sources said was a hefty ransom and the release of two brothers from a mafia-style, Taliban-linked group.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:12 August 23, 2011 by Shirazz
Says "Dozens of foreigners have been taken captive in Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led invasion ousted the Taliban from power, sparking a deadly insurgency,.."

One would think there are many more mountains in the world one could climb without taking such risks.....guess Alps is too too boring....

I hope those climbers are safe.
14:59 August 23, 2011 by frankiep
I wonder if they are related to the "hikers" who were arrested along the Iranian border and are now sitting in an Iranian prison.
15:37 August 23, 2011 by beeker
I'm sure they will want to be bailed out at taxpayer expense.

If you want to climb mountains, go to Canada or Alaska. If you want to play spy join a US civil, or Napoleonic war re-enactment group.
16:01 August 23, 2011 by auslanderus
Who in there right mind will travel to a war torn country that loves to take people hostage a demand just to climb a dummm mountain? Are these people really that stupid? With kinds of mountains to climb in this world why there? Daaaaaaa
18:26 August 23, 2011 by marimay
Reminds me of those Germans who thought it a good idea to cross country ski in Norway in the middle of a snow storm despite the warning of the locals and the Germans who didn't know it got cold in Siberia.
19:50 August 23, 2011 by Logic Guy
Well, some decisions in life are very easy. They are the ones that we must all get right. And sure, everyone seeks excitement. But why not engage in RATIONAL ENDEAVORS? How does a person justify mountain climbing in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq (the American climbers taken in by Iran)?

It's like "Why put 2 stamps on a letter, when it only requires one?"

After thousands of years of existence, humans have yet to solve the most basic problems.

So weird!
21:09 August 23, 2011 by charlenej
A massive search by Afghan army, intelligence and police is underway....because they have nothing else to do but look for these silly hikers? I can't imagine their exasperation. "I mean, really? We have to spend time on this? Now?? *sigh*"
21:55 August 23, 2011 by Whipmanager
I will echo what is above, only to put in my two cents: If they were there, and they aren't spies, they are stupid. NO money or efforts out of the ordinary enquiries via the local consulate should be made. These people had to have known what could happen, and since that must be true, they accepted the possible consequences by going. NO more should be done for them unless it is at little to zero cost of human effort to the land that they are citizens of.
23:06 August 23, 2011 by jbaker
Even if you live in this country it would not be safe to go hiking in the mountains. There is more to this story than we will ever know.

It is probably some writers or reporters trying to get a good story and elevate their position in their industry.
00:02 August 24, 2011 by petenick
It really was dumb. I would think that Germany has some sort of travel warning to that region. God, if they wanted to climb mountains they needed only to go to Garmisch.
00:12 August 24, 2011 by Asgarli
Hikers in Iran, mountain climbers in Afghanistan... was it the same Reiseburo?
06:41 August 24, 2011 by Shirazz
Yes, it's called "Easy Tote Reiseburo", catering to - extreme sport in dangerous and exotic place - loving Germans.

Many people not just the Germans do stuff like that so they could go home feeling achieved and most importantly have all the thrilling pics above their fireplaces, in their albums and on Facebook for the world to see and to brag about.

I only feel sorry for their families. I'm sure their parents or spouses or children had warned them to no avail, and now it's them who are worried and suffering.

Not to mention the trouble it also creates for others concerned.

We humans sometimes forget that "It's My Life" is not always just about 'me'.
08:58 August 24, 2011 by jg.
Evolution in action.
09:36 August 24, 2011 by storymann
Amazing ,what were they thinking? Afganistan for mountain climbing?

The 8 year incarceration of the two young hikers in Iran should be warning enough.

You travel to these areas at your own risk.

There are only to outcomes to this ,either they will be found dead or negotiations with the German Gov. for a ridiculous sum of money.
16:16 August 24, 2011 by golfcricket
Hey I heard that the Irish Pub is open for business in Tripoli.. Anyone up to hiking in the city for a quick pint?? Not much more to say.. Everyone has pretty much summed it up.
18:03 August 24, 2011 by Shirazz
Guten idea, golfcricket. With a pint or two of Guinness we could sing "Oh Danny boy...the pubs the pubs are calling....from glen to glen and down the mountain side.." or "Tripoli doo da Tripoli day.."
21:49 August 25, 2011 by omnash
I wonder if Germany has so many ridiculous rules that some Germans' psyches revolt against limitations of any sort, even eminently sane ones.
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