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5 aid workers abducted in Afghanistan

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Kabul, Aug 16 (AP) - The International Committee of the Red Cross in Afghanistan is trying to secure the release of five of their staff members who were abducted in the western Herat province, a spokesman said Saturday.

The employees were traveling by road on Friday when they were detained by a local armed group, said Marek Resich, an ICRC spokesman.

"The ICRC is currently in contact at various levels to secure the safe release of its team," he said.

The aid workers were delivering sheep to local villages when they were stopped by the gunmen, said Raouf Ahmadi, a police spokesman in Herat province. He said the gunmen took both the workers and the sheep, which could indicate that the abduction was part of a robbery as opposed to a militant attack.

Militants carry out near-daily attacks in Afghanistan, usually targeting security forces.

But recent attacks have rattled civilian aid workers. On July 24, gunmen opened fire on two Finnish aid workers in the city of Herat, killing them both.

Herat is one of Afghanistan's largest provinces. It borders Iran to the west and has become as center of trade with Iran and central Asia.