British worker's body found in Afghanistan days after kidnapping

Taliban claim they killed engineer and five others


KABUL, Afghanistan - A British engineer who was abducted in Afghanistan three days ago has been killed by the Taliban, the British government said yesterday in a statement released in Kabul.

Afghan and U.S.-led troops found the body of the engineer, David Addison, yesterday during a search in Farah province in the southwest, said Kim Howells, Britain's foreign minister for Afghanistan, in the statement.

A Taliban spokesman, Abdul Latif Hakimi, claimed responsibility for the killing in a cell phone text message that said, "Late today a British military follower, David, was killed in Fararud district of Farah province, in an area called Koh-i-Zur." The discrepancy in the timing of his death suggested that Hakimi was reacting to the British government's statement.

The abduction and killing of Addison is part of an upswing in violence around the country ahead of elections scheduled for Sept. 18.

Yesterday, the Taliban also claimed responsibility for the killing of five people, including an election candidate and a government official.

The election candidate, Hajji Khan Muhammad Yakubi, was traveling with the district chief, Muhammad Nawab Khan, and three security guards in the Ghorak district in the southern province of Kandahar when they were abducted Friday evening.

Hakimi said by telephone that the men had been tried and executed. "They appeared before our court, and then we killed them, between Ghorak and Maiwand districts in the desert," he said. "All of them have been killed." Local officials have not yet confirmed the deaths.

In other violence, a cleric, Mullah Amir Akhund, was stabbed to death on Thursday in the town of Gereshk in the adjacent province of Helmand, Agence France-Presse reported, citing a provincial official, Muhammad Wali. Hakimi said he did not know about the incident.

Also, a bomb exploded in the eastern province of Khost at midnight Friday in an open-air mosque where Muslim missionaries, known as Tablighi, had gathered for a ceremony. Five people were slightly wounded in the blast, including the two bodyguards of an election candidate, Ghazi Nawaz Tanai. Tanai escaped injury. It was not clear who was behind the explosion, said the police chief of Khost, Muhammad Ayub, who added that the explosive may have been thrown into the area.

The Taliban spokesman denied knowledge of the explosion.

A forensic official in Kabul, Ehsanullah Halemi, confirmed yesterday that the bodies of a man and a woman found Thursday in southern Afghanistan were those of two Japanese tourists who disappeared Aug. 8, Reuters reported. The two were found with gunshot wounds in a ditch outside the city of Kandahar.

Japanese news media have identified the pair as Jun Fukusho, 44, and Shinobu Hasegawa, 30, both junior high school teachers in Hiroshima. The Taliban have not claimed responsibility for the abductions.

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