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U.S. Pursues Report of American Held Hostage


WASHINGTON — U.S. diplomats asked the interim government of Afghanistan for help Tuesday in determining the status of Clark Russell Bowers, an American whose family says he has been taken hostage while on a humanitarian mission.

The new U.S. liaison office in Kabul, the Afghan capital, took up the case with Foreign Minister Abdullah, a State Department spokesman said. The American diplomats had few other details about the case to share.

Department spokesman Philip T. Reeker told reporters the United States had asked for help "to develop further information based on the sketchy reports that we do have." The Afghan Foreign Ministry promised to pass the request to military and Interior Ministry.

On Monday, Amanda Bowers said her 37-year-old husband had called twice during the last week by satellite phone to say that he had been taken hostage by Afghan tribal warlords and was being held for $25,000 ransom.

In a statement to the media outside her home in Harvest, Ala., Amanda Bowers said her husband told her he had been driven around for several hours blindfolded after he and an interpreter were seized.

U.S. officials said they had no information substantiating Bowers' kidnapping but that they were not ruling it out.

The State Department said the incident, if true, is more likely to be linked to crime rather than politics or the war in Afghanistan.

Bowers' wife described him as a self-employed political consultant who was on his second trip to Afghanistan since Sept. 11 to deliver humanitarian goods, mainly medical supplies.

But friends said they understood he was delivering Bibles to the overwhelmingly Muslim country.


Times staff writer Kenneth Reich in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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