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U.S. civilian reported kidnapped in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. officials say they are taking "very seriously" a report that a U.S. civilian had been kidnapped in Afghanistan, but said they had little more information Tuesday.

Clark Russell Bowers called his wife, Amanda, last week to tell her he had been detained, according to an aide to California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California.

"Our understanding is that he has been kidnapped," said Rick Dykema, Rohrabacher's chief of staff.

Dykema said that Amanda Bowers telephoned Rohrabacher's office last week, and that the congressman made a courtesy call to the State Department to ask how she should proceed.

CNN's Gary Tuchman reports that the wife of Clark Bowers is planning on sending ransom money to ensure the return of her husband (January 16)

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Dykema said Rohrabacher and Bowers, who does not live in the congressman's district, were friends, and said news accounts that Bowers had worked for his congressional campaign were inaccurate. Rohrabacher "was rather shocked and surprised and concerned about his friend," when he was told about the report, Dykema said.

Sources at the Pentagon said Bowers flew from Istanbul, Turkey, to Kabul, Afghanistan, called his wife and said he had been kidnapped. A State Department official said that Mrs. Bowers had telephoned its Bureau of Consular Affairs and that the department was taking the report "very seriously."

Mrs. Bowers reported that her husband said he was calling from a satellite phone and was allowed one call, according to another U.S. official. Bowers told his wife the kidnappers were seeking a ransom, the official said.

Information Bowers gave his wife, the official said, was "rather spotty. He didn't give any information on who to contact."

The official said that investigators had multiple questions, particularly regarding how the man came to be kidnapped.

"It sounded like he was on his own" perhaps with a private group, the official said. "He was definitely not with a recognized international group."

There is a U.S. State Department travel warning in effect for Afghanistan.

-- CNN Correspondents Kate Snow and Barbara Starr and Producer Elise Labott contributed to this report.




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