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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 April 2006, 08:03 GMT 09:03 UK
Indian held in Afghanistan dead
Map of Afghanistan's southern provinces
An Indian engineer abducted and held by Taleban militants in Afghanistan has been found dead.

The beheaded body of K. Suryanarayana was found in southern Afghanistan, according to police.

The Taleban said they shot their hostage as he tried to escape. They had threatened to kill him unless India withdrew workers from Afghanistan.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the killing, calling it an act of terrorism.

The father-of-three from Hyderabad was abducted at gun-point, along with his Afghan driver, on the Kabul-Kandahar road in Shahjui district on Friday.

He had been employed in Afghanistan since January by a Bahrain-based company expanding a mobile phone network.

Ghulam Nabi Malakhail, police chief of Zabul province, said a highway police patrol found the man's body near the Hassan Kariez district of Zabul.

Security operation

A spokesman for Manmohan Singh said: "The prime minister condemns the killing of an Indian civilian in Afghanistan, and expresses his grief and sorrow for the family.

"The prime minister calls on the nation to remain unified in the face of this terrorism."

He said the Indian government would offer its assistance to the family.

Earlier, the Indian Foreign Ministry had said it was sending a team to try to negotiate K. Suryanarayana's release, but Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said India would "continue to fulfil its solemn commitments to Afghanistan's development".

Meanwhile 11 militants and three policemen were killed in separate clashes in the country's restive southern provinces.

Kandahar Governor Assadullah Khaled said nine militants were killed and 12 captured during an operation by Afghan security forces.

Seven more were wounded in the action which, he said, targeted "enemy elements [who] have come to the area from abroad for terrorist activities".

Upsurge in violence

In neighbouring Helmand province, two more militants died when troops attacked a Taleban hideout.

Three policemen were killed and another injured in a separate incident in the province when a rocket hit a police patrol.

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

In November last year, another Indian was abducted in the southern Nimroz province. He was killed by the Taleban a few days 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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