An Indian engineer, Mr. Suryanarayana, working for a Bahrain-based company was kidnapped by the Taliban at gunpoint near Kandahar on Friday while working on a project in Afghanistan.
Quoting the Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Rakesh Sood, CNN/IBN and other news sources reported this morning that Mr. Suryanarayana has been killed and his body found in Kandhahar. News channels are also reporting that the Taliban has claimed to have killed the hostage as he tried to escape from captivity. The as-yet unidentified beheaded body was found by a highway police patrol.
TV channels are also reporting that the Indian Prime Minister’s Office has issued a condemnation of the killing.
According to media reports, the Taliban had claimed that Mr Suryanarayana was an American spy. The Taliban had demanded that all Indians leave Afghanistan by 6 p.m. Sunday local time and had threatened to kill Mr Suryanarayan if their demands were not met.
The Indian government was still in the process of figuring out its options and had sent a three member team late last night to the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan to assist the Embassy in negotiating with the kidnappers when the news of this killing hit the news channels. The Indian government’s position was that it would not pull out of Afghanistan and would continue to help Afghanistan and its people rebuild.
There is still no word on why the deadline for the Taliban’s demands had been unilaterally advanced by the Taliban.
TV news channels have been showing pictures of the slain engineer’s family in talks with the Andhra Pradesh government. A few minutes ago, the pictures switched to heart wrenching pictures of the family discovering the news through the news ticker on the TV news channels. First the look of disbelief as they are trying to read the ticker and then horror as they realize what it means.
The Taliban have abducted a number of engineers, including several Turks and Indians, in southern Afghanistan in recent years.
This is the third such incident targeting an Indian in Afghanistan in the past four months.
In January, Maniappan Kutty, a jawan of the Border Road Organisation, was abducted by the Taliban.
In February Indian engineer Bharath Kumar, working with a Turkish firm, was killed in a bomb blast. There are many Indians working in Afghanistan who have also received death threats from the Taliban in the recent past.
President Pervez Musharraf is reported to have told British newspaper, The Guardian that “Extremism in a Talibanised form is what people are now going for. Mullah Omar and the Taliban have influence in Waziristan and it’s spilling over into our settled areas.”
He also admitted that his popularity was waning, but claimed he was “not a poodle” of US President George W. Bush and rejected accusations he was running a military dictatorship. “When you are talking about fighting terrorism or extremism, I’m not doing that for the US or Britain. I’m doing it for Pakistan,” he said. “It’s not a question of being a poodle. I’m nobody’s poodle. I have enough strength of my own to lead.” If necessary he had “teeth” to bite back, he added.
More than 1400 people have been killed in Afghanistan this year, in militant-related violence.