South Asia

Kidnapped workers for Afghan female MP found dead

A woman walks past a campaign poster of Fauzia Galani in Herat, Afghanistan (26 August 2010)
Image caption Fauzia Galani is one of the few female candidates standing for election in September

The bodies of five people working for a female candidate in Afghanistan's parliamentary election have been found in western Herat province.

They were among a group of 10 people kidnapped by armed men on Wednesday. Five were later released, say reports.

The Taliban later said they carried out the abductions. No group has said it carried out the killings.

The staff were working for Fauzia Galani, who is seeking re-election to parliament in September's polls.

Police chief Nisar Ahmad Popal said the bodies had been found dumped on a mountainside in Adrskan district.

Reports say their hands had been bound and they had been shot in the head.

Taliban insurgents opposed to the elections in general - and female candidates in particular - have been blamed for the murder of a number of candidates.

On Saturday, candidate Haji Abdul Manan was shot and killed as he was leaving a mosque on the back of a motorcycle.

The Taliban have also been blamed for the kidnap of four women working at a drug treatment centre in northern Faryab province. Officials were reported to be negotiating to secure the women's release.

The US has sent an extra 30,000 troops to Afghanistan since December 2009 in an effort to defeat the Taliban.

But the BBC's Quentin Sommerville say that outside the city centres, the campaign of intimidation appears to be working, with many potential voters saying they are too afraid to go to the polls on 18 September.

More than 2,500 candidates are competing for 249 seats in the lower house.