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Aid Organization Suspends Operation In Afghanistan

Men stand next to the bodies of the workers who were killed by Taliban insurgents in the western Herat Province on August 26.
A U.S.-based aid organization says it is temporarily suspending operations in Afghanistan after five of its employees were massacred by suspected Taliban militants.

The International Rescue Committee on August 27 confirmed five Afghan staff members -- as well as a local Afghan official accompanying them -- had been taken hostage on August 25 and killed by their captors a day later in the Gulran district of western Herat Province.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the killings, as did the United Nations office in Afghanistan, which said they could be classified as a war crime.

In a statement on August 27, Karzai said, "The killings show the Taliban and their foreign masters want Afghanistan to remain a dependent and poor country forever."

Provincial Governor Fazlullah Wahidi said on August 27 that a delegation of elders had hoped to save the lives of the workers, but arrived too late to plead for a halt to the executions.

The aid workers were trying to improve project management before foreign troops leave the country next year.

Elsewhere, six bodies were found on August 27 on a roadside in eastern Paktia Province.

The AFP news agency identified the six victims as truck drivers who had been kidnapped.

No further details on that incident were immediately available.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan