An Indian hostage was killed and his beheaded body dumped yesterday in southern Afghanistan, Afghan and Indian officials said. Taliban militants said they shot the hostage dead as he tried to escape.
An Afghan highway police patrol found the decapitated body with the head close by in the Hassan Kariez district of Zabul, the same area where Indian telecommunications engineer K. Suryanarayana was abducted on Friday, said provincial police chief Ghulam Nabi Malakhail.
"We found the body, beheaded, in a ditch by a road, about 10km from where he was kidnapped," said Mohammad Mir, a district police chief in Zabul province.
Indian officials traveled from the Afghan capital, Kabul, to inspect the body and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's office later confirmed the engineer's killing -- the second Indian hostage to die in southern Afghanistan in the past six months.
"The prime minister condemns the killing of an Indian civilian in Afghanistan and expresses his grief and sorrow for the family," said Singh's spokesman Sanjay Baru, in the Indian capital, New Delhi. "The prime minister calls on the nation to remain unified in the face of this terrorism."
Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, who releases regular statements on behalf of outlawed Taliban fighters, said militants shot the Indian after he tried to escape and fought with his captors.
Ahmadi issued a threat a day earlier saying all Indians must leave Afghanistan by 6pm yesterday or Suryanarayana would be executed.
Grief swept through Suryanarayana's home in Hyderabad. His wife, Manjula, collapsed on seeing reports of the body's discovery, while her three children and dozens of well-wishers wailed and cried -- many of them clutching pictures of the missing engineer.
Suryanarayana, 41, had been employed in Afghanistan since January by a Bahrain-based company, al-Moayed. The company has been contracted by an Afghan mobile phone company, Roshan, to expand its mobile phone network across volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan.
His kidnapping was the first since four Macedonians of Albanian descent were kidnapped and killed in March, purportedly by Taliban militants. The Taliban abducted and killed another Indian last Novem-ber. Truck driver Maniappan Raman Kutty's almost decapitated body was dumped in another volatile southern province, Nimroz.