Two foreign journalists on assignment for UN detained in Kabul
The detentions come months after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan following a lightning offensive that ousted the former Western-backed government.
"Two journalists on assignment with UNHCR and Afghan nationals working with them have been detained in Kabul. We are doing our utmost to resolve the situation, in coordination with others," the UNHCR tweeted.
One of the journalists is Andrew North, a British former BBC correspondent who has covered Afghanistan for about two decade who has regularly travelled to the war-ravaged country to report on its deteriorating humanitarian crisis.
"Andrew was in Kabul working for the UNHCR, trying to help the people of Afghanistan," his wife Natalia Antelava tweeted.
"We are extremely concerned for his safety & call on anyone with influence to help secure his release."
Thank you everyone for your messages. Andrew was in Kabul working for the UNHCR & trying to help the people of Afghanistan. We are extremely concerned for his safety & call on anyone with influence to help secure his release. https://t.co/lgVblvlaa3— natalia antelava (@antelava) February 11, 2022
Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the authorities were looking into the matter.
"We have received information about this and are trying to confirm whether they have been detained or not," Mujahid said.
The Taliban are increasingly restricting the lives of Afghans, while an economic crisis has worsened a devastating humanitarian disaster.
Security has vastly improved since the Taliban defeated NATO-backed Afghan forces, but the hardline Islamist group has forcefully cracked down on journalists, with local reporters paying the heaviest price.
At least 50 Afghan media workers have been arrested or detained by the police or the Taliban's intelligence agency, Reporters Without Borders said in a report earlier this month.
The arrests, often accompanied by violence, have lasted from several hours to nearly a week, the Paris-based press freedoms watchdog said.
Afghanistan has long been one of the world's most dangerous countries for the news media.
Several journalists, including women, were killed in a spree of targeted attacks blamed on the Taliban in the build up to their stunning offensive to take back control.
Taliban critics have also been detained.
Four women protesters have been missing since last month after taking part in anti-Taliban demonstrations.
The Taliban authorities have denied any involvement.