India to step up security for nationals working in strife-torn Afghanistan

India has decided to strengthen security for its nationals working in Afghanistan, weeks after an Indian was abducted and killed, an official spokesman said Friday. "A review of security guidelines for Indians working in Afghanistan is being undertaken in consultation with local authorities. Security arrangements are being strengthened and necessary precautions taken," said Navtej Sarna, the External Affairs Ministry spokesman.

A team of Indian officials will visit Afghanistan soon to review the security situation and recommend measures to ensure the safety of Indians there, Sarna said.

An Indian driver, Maniappan Raman Kutty, working at a road construction site in southwestern Nimroz province was abducted and killed last month, prompting the Indian government to order the review of security for the roughly 2,000 Indian nationals working on numerous private and public-sector reconstruction projects in Afghanistan.

India is helping Afghanistan rebuild its schools and hospitals and has supplied dozens of trucks and jeeps to Afghanistan's new U.S.-trained army. It is also involved in building roads and a multimillion dollar dam near the western city of Herat.

India says it has spent about US$400 million (Ђ302 million) in aid for Afghanistan since 2001, mainly for reconstruction work in the areas of hydroelectric power, road construction, agriculture, industry, telecommunications, education and health.

India pledged another $50 million (Ђ40 million) for rebuilding infrastructure in Afghanistan during a visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Kabul in August, reports the AP. I.L.

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