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Two foreigners reported missing in Afghanistan, feared kidnapped

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Two foreigners, thought to be a Canadian and a U.S. citizen, were reported missing Saturday by a provincial reconstruction team in volatile Wardak, west of Kabul, and were feared to have been kidnapped, Afghan police said.

Rumors of the abduction of a man and a woman by either insurgents or criminal gangs have circulated for several days, but U.S. and Canadian diplomats said they were unaware of anyone reported missing.

"According to the Provincial Reconstruction Team report they had planned to travel from Kabul to Wardak," Wardak police spokesman Wali Mohammad told Reuters.

"The missing foreigners were in contact until they reached the Kampany area on Kabul's outskirts. After that they lost contact," Mohammad said. "We have information they may have been kidnapped."

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The kidnapping of foreigners has become relatively common in parts of Afghanistan since U.S.-backed Afghan forces toppled the former Taliban government in 2001.

NATO-led forces said they were aware of the kidnap reports, but the search for the missing pair was being handled by diplomats and Afghan police.

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A U.S. Embassy spokesman in Kabul late on Friday said there was no information on a missing American, but diplomatic officials are often reluctant to talk about kidnappings in hope it could smooth the way for negotiations on a release.

Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs said it was looking into the reports, but gave no confirmation of a missing citizen.

In May, two Western female doctors working for a Swiss charity were kidnapped with two Afghan colleagues by insurgent gunmen in northeastern Afghanistan. They were later rescued by NATO special forces soldiers.

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