5 Kidnapped Afghan Campaign Workers Found Dead

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan officials said they found the bodies Sunday of five kidnapped campaign workers for a female parliamentary candidate in the western province of Herat.

The five were snatched Wednesday by armed men who stopped their two-vehicle convoy as it was traveling through remote countryside. Five others traveling in the vehicles had earlier been set free, according to a man who answered the phone at the home of candidate Fawzya Galani and declined to give his name.

Residents of Herat's Adraskan district reported finding the bodies early Sunday and they were later transported to the local morgue, district chief Nasar Ahmad Popul said.

No one has claimed responsibility for the killings, although Taliban insurgents have been waging a campaign of murder and intimidation in hopes of sabotaging the Sept. 18 polls.

Galani may be a particular target of insurgents because she is one of only a few female candidates for the 249 seats in the lower house of parliament.

Also in Herat, parliamentary candidate Abdul Manan was shot and killed Saturday on his way to a mosque by an attacker traveling by motorbike.

A number of other candidates and their assistants have been killed, injured or threatened around the country.

Many Afghans say they don't plan to take part in the voting, either because of safety concerns or cynicism with ineffective government and disgust over widespread corruption.

Electoral officials plan to open 5,897 polling sites for the parliamentary elections, having discarded more than 900 proposed venues because army and police could not guarantee security. Last year, 6,167 voting centers nominally operated during presidential polls.