AFP - The Red Cross said Tuesday that a French staff member was abducted last night by several armed men in eastern Chad, near the border with Sudan.
"The incident occurred around 9:00 pm local time. The staff member, Laurent Maurice, an agronomist, was in the area to evaluate the most recent harvest," said the International Committee of the Red Cross in a statement.
Maurice was spending the night with five Chadian colleagues in the village of Kawa when he was kidnapped.
"The ICRC currently has no indication of who the abductors might be or of their motives. It is in contact with the authorities and other parties with the aim of resolving the situation as swiftly as possible," it added.
The aid agency called for the "rapid and unconditional release of its kidnapped staff member" and said it has temporarily suspended its activities in eastern Chad.
Besides supporting a health-care centre in the village of Kawa, the ICRC runs other programmes in eastern Chad, including offering aid to those displaced by internal conflict, as well as visiting detainees in prisons.
Aid agencies have reported several attacks in the region in the past year, with bandits often blamed for the violence.
In March, British charity Oxfam estimated that 25 attacks occur every month on non-governmental organisations operating in eastern Chad.
ICRC spokeswoman Anna Schaaf said that the ICRC has also been subjected to minor incidents but nothing on the scale of Monday's kidnapping.
"For instance, there were cars stolen, but nothing as serious as an abduction," she said.
A Greek employee of medical charity Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders - MSF) was also kidnapped in eastern Chad in August. He was released a month later.
The arid region is home to an estimated 450,000 refugees and displaced people, putting a great strain on scarce food resources and firewood.