ISLAMABAD (AP) — An Afghanistan-based nonprofit said Saturday it is working with the United Nations and others to secure the rapid release of 18 staffers detained by the Taliban, including a foreign national.

The International Assistance Mission said the 18 people were arrested twice this month at its office in central Ghor province and taken to the capital Kabul.

Local media reported that an American was among those arrested and that employees were arrested for preaching about Christianity. The nonprofit said it did not yet have information about the nature of the allegations.

“IAM has written to the Ministry of Economy, where we are legally registered as an international NGO, about these extremely worrying developments,” the nonprofit said. “We are also working with the United Nations and ACBAR, the coordinating body for NGOs in Afghanistan, to deepen our understanding of the situation and advocate for the rapid release of our 18 colleagues.”

The mission said it values ​​and respects Afghanistan’s customs and culture and stands by the principle that aid will not be used to promote a “particular political or religious” view. It said all employees agreed to abide by the country’s laws.

Afghan officials were not immediately available to comment on the arrests.

The nonprofit said two Afghan nationals and an international team member were removed from its Ghor office on September 3. Another 15 Afghan national employees were picked up from the same office on September 13th.

Since the Taliban took control of the country two years ago, NGOs have been under increased scrutiny. They have taken strict measures, including banning Afghan women from pursuing education beyond the sixth grade and barring them from public life and work, including jobs with NGOs.

A US watchdog reported earlier this year that the Taliban were harassing NGOs operating in the country.

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