THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A Japanese aid worker kidnapped in eastern Afghanistan has been killed, police officials said.
Kazuya Ito, 31, was abducted near the city of Jalalabad early Aug. 26. Japan set up a task force in Kabul to seek his release, according to Japan’s foreign ministry. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.The Japanese government said no ransom demands were made.
Ghafor Khan, spokesman for the Nangarhar province police chief, said Ito was killed by blows to the head, likely caused by an attack with a rock. Khan said Ito also had a gunshot wound to the leg.
On Aug. 27, Afghan police took Ito’s body from remote eastern Afghan mountains where it was found to the city of Jalalabad.
Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported that Ito and his driver were abducted by a group of armed assailants. It said the driver was released soon afterward.
Manji Fukumoto, head of aid group Peshawar-kai, for whom Ito worked, said Ito was kidnapped by four men.
“Of the four, two were armed,” Fukumoto told a news conference in Fukuoka, Japan, where the aid group is based.
Ito was an agriculture specialist with the Peshawar-kai, which runs clinics in the region. The Foreign Ministry said Ito was the first Japanese to be kidnapped in Afghanistan, which has been rocked by increasing violence in recent months.
Officials from the Japanese Embassy in Kabul traveled to the eastern city of Jalalabad and identified the body as Kazuya Ito, 31, Senior Vice Foreign Minister Ichita Yamamoto told a news conference at the foreign ministry in Tokyo.
“We were doing our best to secure his safe release. But to our great regret, we confirmed the dead body was that of Kazuya Ito,” Yamamoto said. ♦
Jay Alabaster contributed to this report.