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Jesuit abducted in Afghanistan “located” 

Father Alexis Prem Kumar

New Delhi: Sources in the Aghanistan police Wednesday claimed to have located Jesuit Father Alexis Prem Kumar who was abducted by unidentified gunment two days ago, an Indian private TV channel reported.

NDTV also said the Afghanistan forces have arrested a man in connection with the abduction of 47-year-old Indian priest who works for the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS).

The police sources said Fr Kumar was located in Gilan in Herat, Afghanistan’s western province.

The priest is the country director of JRS for Afghanistan and he was kidnapped Monday afternoon when he was on a visit to a JRS-supported school for Afghan refugee children from Iran and Pakistan.

He was kidnapped from the school as he was about to return to Herat, NDTV reported quoting JRS sources.

The Indian consul general in Herat has been in touch with local authorities. Sources said that Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has been personally monitoring the case and that the kidnappers have made no demands yet.

The abduction came nearly 10 days after the attack on the Indian consulate in Herat. Four heavily-armed gunmen carrying rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns attacked the consultate. However, security forces repelled the attack and killed the militants on May 23.

Six days later, the Indian mission in Herat issued an advisory asking its nationals to be extremely caution while venturing out.

JRS has been working in Afghanistan since 2008 helping those returning home from exile in Iran and Pakistan by providing education and healthcare services in Bamiyan, Kabul and Herat.

Jesuits first reached Afghanistan in 1582 when Mughal emperor Akbar took along one of their priests to Kabul from Agra. A year later, in 1582, Jesuit Brother Bento de Goes stopped there on his way to China. But neither stayed for long.

The Jesuits returned there 420 years later when a four-member delegation arrived in Kabul to explore the possibility of launching educational activities in the war-ravaged nation.

Jesuit activties since then have been centered around Herat, the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 436,300 as of 2012.

The Herat city is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan. The city is linked with Kandahar and Mazar-e-Sharif via highway 1 or the ring road that stretches across the country. It is further linked to the city of Mashhad in Iran through the border town of Islam Qala.