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Mystery surrounds disappearance of 2 Chinese nationals after Kabul shootings

KABUL — Depending on who you talk to, a Chinese man who disappeared after a deadly attack in the Afghan capital last week either made a daring escape from kidnappers or is a murder suspect who fled the scene of a quadruple slaying.

The man, who has not been named, along with another Chinese national, disappeared after four people were shot to death at a house party in Kabul Thursday night, according to Afghan officials. Three of those killed were Chinese nationals — a man and two women — and the fourth was their Afghan guard, according to Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency.

Quoting Chinese embassy officials, Xinhua, reported that one of the men who disappeared was taken hostage by Afghans but managed to untie himself, jump out of his captors’ car and find safety at a U.S. military base, before being transferred to “a safe place” by embassy officials.

Officials with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force confirmed that a Chinese national came to the gate of a base in eastern Afghanistan Friday and was helped by troops there before being flown by military aircraft to Kabul, where he was met by Chinese officials. They said they could not speculate on any involvement he may have had with the Kabul shooting.

“We can confirm that ISAF provided assistance to a Chinese citizen in order to facilitate his safe return to Chinese diplomatic representatives in Kabul, Afghanistan,” Col. Jane E. Crichton said.

Afghan officials, however, gave a different version of the story than that reported in Chinese media.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said that the two Chinese men fled the scene of the party and are suspects in the slaying. Sediqqi said one of the men who disappeared was picked up by Afghan police officers and is being interrogated.

“It could be an internal issue because there is no indication of terrorism,” he said.

No one answered the phone at the Chinese Embassy Sunday.

The motivation for the attack, which occurred in a residential neighborhood of Kabul, is unclear. A Taliban spokesman denied the insurgent group was involved. Such attacks on foreigners are still relatively rare in Kabul, though there have been several kidnappings this year.

Police are still searching for the second Chinese man who disappeared from the scene, Sediqqi said.

There is a small Chinese community in Kabul, some of whom run small businesses, and a larger Chinese contingent working on natural resource ventures, such as mining. The three Chinese who were killed and the two who disappeared were all “self-employed business people,” according to Xinhua.

druzin.heath@stripes.com
Twitter: @Druzin_Stripes

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