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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 November 2005, 11:14 GMT
Abducted Indian driver found dead
Mr Maniyappan (l) is survived by his wife and two children
The body of a kidnapped Indian man has been found in southern Afghanistan, Afghan and Indian officials say.

Ramankutty Maniyappan, a driver with India's state-run Border Roads Organisation, went missing in the province of Nimroz on Saturday.

The Taleban said on Tuesday they killed him. Three Afghans were also seized.

Local official Mohammed Hashim said Mr Maniyappan's body had been dumped by the roadside. India's government called the killing "inhuman and barbaric".

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"I condemn this cowardly and brutal murder of a brave Indian, who was working in the cause of peace and development far from his home and country," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said. Mr Maniyappan's family were inconsolable after hearing news of his death.

"The killed my innocent son. They could have killed me," his father said.

'Throat slit'

Afghan officials said Mr Maniyappan's body had been found on a dirt road in Delaram district.

The Taleban and its backers bear the responsibility for the consequences of this outrageous act
Indian foreign ministry

"Police have found the body of the Indian national and I can confirm that he has been killed," Mohammad Hashim, the district chief, told Reuters news agency.

Mr Hashim told the AFP news agency that the driver had "been slaughtered, his throat has been cut".

A Taleban spokesman told news agencies on Tuesday that Mr Maniyappan had been shot dead after his company failed to heed a 48-hour deadline to quit Afghanistan.

Earlier in the day, Afghan officials confirmed that one Afghan man seized with Mr Maniyappan had been freed.

The Taleban spokesman said they were still holding the other two.

Mr Maniyappan was among 300 Indians and Iranians working on a $83m road project in Nimroz province.

He who was the only earning member of his family, and is survived by his parents, wife and two children in his native southern state of Kerala.

India's federal government has announced financial compensation of $21,000 for his family and promised to fund his children's school education.

Abductions

The Taleban have abducted a number of engineers, including several Turks and Indians, in southern Afghanistan in recent years.

In one incident, a Turk was killed but others were freed. A British engineer was abducted and killed in Farah province in September.

Two Indians working on a road in southern Zabul province were kidnapped in 2003 but released unharmed two weeks later.

Taleban militants are active in much of south and east Afghanistan. The US-led coalition in the country has about 20,000 troops fighting the insurgents. This year has seen an upsurge in violence linked to militants, with more than 1,400 people killed.




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