The Hindustan Times daily said Indo-Tibetan Border Police units were being sent to the Indian consulate at Kandahar after India's joint secretary for security in Afghanistan, BC Katoch, gave an assessment report "on the grave security risks".

The report said greater security was also needed at other Indian consulates in Afghanistan. 

The Indian road workers were kidnapped in Zabul province on Saturday on the highway between Kabul and the main southern city of Kandahar.

A spokesman for the ousted Taliban militia said they were likely to kill the two road workers "because they suspected them of being intelligence agents".

Afghan officials said the pair were kidnapped after shopping with Afghan colleagues in Bazargan village, five kilometres from the highway near Shahjoy, 280 kilometres southwest of Kabul. 

Three men armed with machineguns stopped their car, let the Afghans go and made off with the Indians and the car. 

South and southeast Afghanistan have borne the brunt of a rise in violence, blamed on resurgent Taliban and their allies who have increasingly targeted aid workers as well as US and Afghan troops.

Relatives not informed

Indian firm B Seenaiah and Company, employers of the two kidnapped workers, told The Hindu newspaper they were in the dark as to their whereabouts. 

The firm's managing director, B Seenaiah, said he had not yet
informed the family members of the two workers as he did not want them to panic. 

"The kidnapping of two Indians is a signal to India from the Taliban and the pro-Pakistan lobby. They want to discourage our people from going and working there"

S K Lambah,
Former Indian special
envoy to Afghanistan

"We do not know what is happening there and if there is any development we will come to know of it immediately," he added. 

Some 700 to 800 semi-skilled Indian workers are currently in Afghanistan with private companies, including a tiny number of highly-skilled professionals such as doctors and engineers, the paper said. 

India has been in the forefront of reconstruction work in Afghanistan since the Taliban was dislodged from power following the US global campaign against terrorism after September 2001. 

India has already given 274 buses, three Airbus aircraft, has pledged $70 million for construction of a road and has donated one million tonnes of wheat. 

"The kidnapping of the two Indians is a signal to India from the Taliban and the pro-Pakistan lobby," former Indian special envoy to Afghanistan, S K Lambah said. "They want to discourage our people from going and working there," he added.