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Reports Conflict On Kidnapped Workers in Afghanistan

Former Afghan Taliban and other Islamic militants surrendered under an amnesty program in early March, in Herat (epa) KANDAHAR, March 16, 2006 -- There are conflicting reports today from Afghanistan about the fate of four foreigners who were recently kidnapped in the southern province of Kandahar.

Afghanistan’s Pajhwok news agency quotes local police who say the bodies of three ethnic Albanians and one German were discovered in the provincial district of Maiwand to the west of Kandahar city. The report says their bodies had been surrounded by land mines.

But AP quotes Kandahar Governor Asadullah Khalid as saying authorities are still searching for the foreign workers. Khalid also identified the kidnapping victims as Macedonian nationals.

The four are under contract with a German firm called ECOLOG that does cleaning work at military camps used by U.S.-led coalition troops in Afghanistan.

A self-declared Taliban spokesman on March 13 claimed responsibility for the abductions and said Taliban fighters had executed them on the orders of the Taliban movement's spiritual leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar.

Reputed Taliban spokesman Mohammed Hanif says Mullah Omar has issued another statement claiming that Taliban fighters are ready to launch a wave of suicide bomb attacks against foreign and Afghan troops in the months ahead.

Violence normally escalates in Afghanistan in the spring and early summer when snow melts on
the high mountain passes that are used by guerilla fighters. Violence last year resulted in the deaths of some 1,600 people -- the most in the country since the Taliban regime was ousted from Kabul by the U.S-led anti-terrorism coalition in late 2001.

(Radio Free Afghanistan, AP, dpa)

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

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