KABUL : Five Afghans working for the Red Cross were released Friday after being kidnapped earlier this week in Ghazni, the aid agency said, in an incident that saw it suspend field activities across the eastern province.

Aid workers in Afghanistan have increasingly been casualties of a surge in militant violence in recent years. “We can indeed confirm that all our five colleagues have been released unharmed this morning and have arrived in Ghazni,” Olivier Moeckli, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Kabul, told AFP.

“ICRC’s office in Ghazni remains open. Field activities are still temporarily on hold in Ghazni province,” Olivier said, adding that the aid organisation was reviewing security and hoped “to resume its activities as soon as possible”. He said the five had been kidnapped by a “local armed group” while travelling through the province on Tuesday.

The Swiss-based Red Cross focuses much of its work on helping people in conflict zones, and is also a global watchdog for the Geneva Conventions on conduct during warfare. The abduction of aid workers for ransom is common in Afghanistan.

A female German aid worker working for German Development Organisation (GIZ) who was kidnapped in Kabul in August was released in October last year.

In April 2015, the bullet-riddled bodies of five Afghan workers for Save the Children were found after they were abducted by gunmen in strife-torn southern province of Uruzgan.