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Australian Who Helped Poor Afghan Women Believed Kidnapped

An Afghan policeman inspects passengers at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Jalalabad, capital of Nangarhar province on April 29.

Afghan officials say police have arrested eight suspects in connection with the disappearance of Katherine Jane Wilson, an Australian aid worker believed to have been kidnapped in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar.

Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar, said late on April 29 that police believe that some of Wilson's local co-workers were involved in the kidnapping.

Wilson runs Zardozi, a group that helps support impoverished Afghan women by selling embroidered items they make.

"Our initial investigations show that some of Zardozi employees were involved in the kidnapping, which was a preplanned act," Khogyani told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan.

Police say Wilson, who worked in the region for years with women's charities, was taken by gunmen who stormed her office in the city of Jalalabad on April 28.

Her elderly father, Brian, appealed for his daughter's return in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

"I presume she's a hostage and they'll do their best to keep her alive and not harm her simply because they want to have something or other in return," he said.

Kidnappings, especially for ransom, are common in Afghanistan, and frequently target employees of humanitarian organizations.

With reporting by dpa and AP