7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Local News

Free engineer appeal by firm

A BAHRAIN company appealed to the international community yesterday for help to free an employee kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Kasula Suryanarayan, an Indian engineer working for Bahrain-based Almoayed Group, was kidnapped on Friday while transferring goods on a pick-up. The company has been awarded a network expansion contract by Roshan, the largest GSM operator in Afghanistan.

Mr Suryanarayan and his Afghan driver were kidnapped after gunmen stopped their pick-up on a road in the volatile southern province of Zabul.

"We appeal to anyone who can help in negotiating the freedom of our employee," said Almoayed Group assistant general manager-marketing and company spokesman Mohammed Wajihuddin Ahmed.

"We wish to state that our company is a Bahraini company engaged in infrastructure development in various countries, including Afghanistan.

"Mr Suryanarayan has been working with us for over a year on various projects and is an accomplished engineer and project manager."

Mr Ahmed said Almoayed Group was a politically neutral, privately owned technology company.

"We do not have any affiliation of any sort with any other agency, assumed or otherwise," he added.

"We can also vouch for the politically neutral stand of Mr Suryanarayan, who has no affiliation to any political party, or leanings towards any other government or political party.

"Lastly, we implore the parties concerned to take a humanitarian view of the situation and help us survive this potential tragedy."

The company urged the kidnappers to free Mr Suryanarayan and return him safely to the Indian High Commission in Kabul.

A Crisis Committee has been set up with representatives from Saladin (the company involved in providing security to all employees engaged in the project), Roshan and Almoayed Group.

Mr Suryanarayan was in Bahrain last year, supervising Almoayed Group's civil work for a fibre-optic infrastructure project.

He is in his early 40s and is married with three school-going children, who live in his native Hyderabad, India.

Taliban insurgents yesterday threatened to kill Mr Suryanarayan unless Indians left Afghanistan within 24 hours

Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammed Yousuf told Reuters the deadline was 6pm (13.30 GMT or 4.30pm Bahrain time) today.

Police reinforcements have been sent to Zabul to help with the hunt for Mr Suryanarayan and his driver, said Gulab Shah Alikhail, spokesman for the Governor of Zabul.

Meanwhile, Almoayed Group general manager for Afghanistan Manish Agrawal arrived in Kabul last night while director of operations and chief executive officer Pankaj Sehgal will arrive today for negotiations seeking the release of Mr Suryanarayan.

Indian Ambassador Balkrishna Shetty last night spoke to his counterpart in Kabul, Rakesh Sood, on efforts underway to secure Mr Suryanarayan's freedom.

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