Bodies of ten abducted Afghan troops found after raids

THE bullet-riddled bodies of ten government soldiers were found in southern Afghanistan yesterday, soon after they were abducted in two raids by suspected Taleban rebels, Afghan officials said.

A senior Afghan military commander said five militia soldiers were found dead on a mountainside in Niamashien district of Kandahar province, some 150 miles south-west of the capital, Kabul.

Khan Mohammed said Taleban assailants took the men during an attack on the district chief’s office just after midnight yesterday.

"They were alive when they were captured, but they’d been shot with AK-47s when they were found," Mr Mohammed said. He said more troops had been dispatched from Kandahar to investigate and search for the culprits.

Earlier, troops sent to search for five Afghan National Army soldiers abducted in Zabul province found their bodies in the Sur Ghogan area, about 240 miles south-west of Kabul, Zabul’s governor, Khial Mohammed, said.

"We found the bodies and the Taleban took their vehicle," Mr Mohammed said. "They were all shot in the stomach and chest."

Officials say the troops were kidnapped on Monday when suspected Taleban rebels stopped their vehicle between Shahjoy and the provincial capital, Qalat, on the main road from Kabul to the southern city of Kandahar.

A purported spokesman for the Taleban, Abdul Hakim Latifi, said on Monday it had taken the men, but added they were safe and conditions for their release would be discussed later.

Taleban-led militants have increased attacks in recent weeks, killing dozens of Afghan soldiers and civilians and bringing the death toll in violence across the country to more than 300 this year.

Authorities appear to have little control in Zabul, where officials said four Afghan soldiers and two civilians were killed by mines, and dozens of fighters attacked a remote government office on Sunday.

In neighbouring Paktika province, an Afghan commander said his men fired artillery in response to five rockets aimed at their base on the Pakistani border.

Poor security threatens to upset plans for the country’s first post-Taleban elections planned for September, despite the presence of some 15,000 mainly United States troops pursuing insurgents and 6,000 NATO-led peacekeepers.

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