Finnish Woman Kidnapped in Afghanistan, Roommate and Guard Killed – Here’s What We Know So Far

Atte Kaleva, a Finnish officer who was researching radical Islam, was kidnapped in Yemen in December 2012 with his wife. They spent 140 days in captivity. “As long as you are alive, there is hope,” he said in a recent interview. In the picture, Kaleva is speaking at a press conference after his release in May 2013. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

A Finnish woman, who had arrived in Afghanistan just three months ago to work for an aid and development organization, was violently kidnapped from her residence in the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, on Saturday evening. Two people were killed during the incident: her roommate and an Afghan guard.

Click to read the violent details of the kidnapping. Not suitable for the most sensitive readers.
Men holding guns arrived at the voluntary workers’ guesthouse about nine in the evening, local time. At first, they slashed the guard’s neck. Then they moved to the second story of the building where the Finnish woman and her roommate, a German colleague, were sleeping. They shot the German woman in the face and, according to the Afghan police, kidnapped the Finnish national.

After the attack, the body of the German woman and the body of the Afghan bodyguard were found at the premises.

While writing this article, the perpetrators and the whereabouts of the Finn are unknown.

The Finnish woman was working for Operation Mercy, a Swedish NGO helping Afghans to improve their education and water maintenance. Kidnappings in Afghanistan are a major problem. During the 2000’s over a hundred westerners have been kidnapped. Some have been freed, some killed, others still detained. Kidnappings are sometimes used to demand ransom, other times they are used to scare people or to put on the political pressure.

According to the Foreign Ministry, there are currently about 60-70 Finnish nationals in Afghanistan. About 35 are civilians and the rest are soldiers.

The Finnish woman was living with her roommate in a “low profile” residence. This means that there were no thick walls surrounding the building or armed guards on alert. “They had rented the house, they would leave the house in the morning and return at around 4:30 in the afternoon. They would wear our traditional clothes and headscarves, they were not armed and had two guards,” said Abdul Jalil, a resident in the area, to an Afghan news site, Tolo News.

Sources: The Foreign Ministry, HS, STT, Tolo News

Picture on the front page: UN Photo/Eric Kanalstein 

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