A kidnapped Indian telecommunications worker was found beheaded in southern Afghanistan on Sunday and the Taliban said they had killed him.
The man and his Afghan driver were kidnapped on Friday. Taliban insurgents said on Saturday they had taken both men and vowed to kill the Indian unless New Delhi withdrew all its workers from Afghanistan within 24 hours.
“We found the body, beheaded, in a ditch by a road, about 6 miles from where he was kidnapped,” said Mohammad Mir, a district police chief in Zabul province.
Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf said by telephone Suryanarayan had been shot dead on Saturday evening while trying to escape.
India had confirmed the killing, said a spokesman for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
“The prime minister has condemned the killing and expressed grief and sorrow and has asked the nation to remain united in the fight against terrorism,” the spokesman said in New Delhi.
India has close relations with Afghanistan and is involved in numerous aid and reconstruction projects. Indian officials said on Saturday that India was committed to maintaining a presence in Afghanistan to help its economic development.
Taliban: Withdraw Indians
The man, identified by India as K. Suryanarayan, 41, was kidnapped with his driver after gunmen stopped their vehicle. Mir said the driver’s fate was unknown.
Suryanarayan’s body was found near the main road between Qalat, the Zabul provincial capital, and Ghazni to the north, Mir said. The Indian appeared to have been killed on Saturday evening. His body had been taken to Ghazni, Mir said.
Taliban spokesman Yousuf said on Saturday Suryanarayan was a U.S. spy and would be killed if India did not withdraw all of its nationals working in Afghanistan by 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Violence and lawlessness across much of the Afghan south has crippled development, and the main task of thousands of NATO troops due soon to move into the region will be to ensure sufficient security for reconstruction.
On several occasions militants have kidnapped aid agency staff and foreign company workers, who the Taliban say are supporting the Western-backed government.
Suryanarayan worked for Al Moayed, a Bahrain-based engineering and IT company. He had been contracted to work in Afghanistan for the Afghan telecommunications company Roshan.
His family in India had appealed for his release.
An Indian engineer kidnapped last November while working on a road project was later found dead in the southern province of Nimroz. The Taliban said they had executed him to press their demand for withdrawal of all Indian workers.
In February, a roadside blast killed an Indian and a Turk working on a road project, as well as their Afghan driver, in the west of the country.
India said later in February it was sending up to 250 paramilitary police to protect civilians working on various development projects, especially a highway project in the west.