KABUL, Afghanistan – The body of a kidnapped Turkish engineer was found in eastern Afghanistan (search) on Wednesday, a day after he was snatched with his driver and interpreter by a band of armed men, officials said.
Mohammad Eyup (search), who went missing late Tuesday afternoon, is the second Turkish engineer to be killed in the country's restive countryside this year. His body was found by security forces who had launched a massive search operation, said Jamil Jumbesh, head of the Interior Ministry's anti-terror division.
He had been shot several times, Kunar provincial police chief Mateullha Sofie said, adding that it appeared the kidnappers killed him and abandoned his body as police moved in to try to capture them.
A helicopter was brought in to evacuate the body, but it was not immediately clear where it was being taken.
Eyup's driver and interpreter were freed without serious injury before dawn, and officials credited the pressure of the search by the Afghan military, police and coalition forces for their release.
The driver and interpreter reported that 12 armed men wearing military-style uniforms stopped their car Tuesday as they were traveling from a road construction project in Kunar province to the city of Jalalabad, where they have been staying.
Police found the car abandoned.
The kidnappers later exchanged gunfire with police manning a nearby security post on the road, and one police officer was wounded, Jumbesh said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Bandits and insurgents from the Taliban (search) and other Islamic extremist groups operate in the area about 110 miles east of the capital of Kabul, officials said.
Security, particularly in the countryside, is one of the top priorities for President Hamid Karzai ahead of parliamentary elections in the spring.
In March, Afghan forces freed two kidnapped Turkish engineers and an Afghan translator in a shootout that left their two captors dead and two Afghan soldiers injured. Another Turkish engineer and an Afghan soldier were killed during the abduction a week earlier on the road from Kabul to the turbulent south.
A Turkish road engineer and his driver were kidnapped Oct. 30 and released a month later in southern Afghanistan. Hasan Onal's Taliban captors turned him over to tribal elders, who handed him to government officials.
Three U.N. workers who spent nearly a month in the hands of Afghan kidnappers were freed last month. Armed men seized them on Oct. 28 in the first reported abduction of foreigners in the Afghan capital since the fall of the Taliban three years ago.