SHEWA, Afghanistan (Reuters) – A Japanese aid worker kidnapped in eastern Afghanistan was found dead, the governor of Nangarhar province said on Wednesday.
“He has been killed. Police have recovered his body and are trying to bring it down from the top of the mountain,” Gul Agha Sherzai told Reuters.
Kazuya Ito, a 31-year-old aid worker from Japan, was kidnapped by gunmen on Tuesday in Nangarhar. Afghan police launched a rescue operation on Wednesday.
Sherzai, together with Afghan police and international troops, traveled to the village of Shewa to recover the body. A Reuters reporter saw the bullet-riddled body of the victim after it was brought down from the mountain.
“It’s the worst thing that could possibly happen. It’s what we hoped would never happen,” Mitsuji Fukumoto, who worked for the same Peshawar-kai aid agency, told reporters in Fukuoka.
“We must not waste Ito’s efforts. I believe we should continue our activities,” he added, at one point bowing his head and wiping tears from his eyes.
Taliban insurgents, who have been behind a series of abduction of Afghans and foreigners in recent years, said they had no information about the abduction.
Japan does not have troops in Afghanistan, but its navy runs a maritime refueling operation in support of U.S.-led military operations in the country.
Peshawar-kai, based in southern Japan, was set up in 1983 and provides medical services in Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to its website (http://www1a.biglobe.ne.jp/peshawar/index.html).