Five staff members of an aid organization who were kidnapped by gunmen were found dead in southern Afghanistan, an official said Saturday.
The five men, all Afghans working for the Save the Children organization, were abducted nearly two months before in Oruzgan province while reportedly monitoring their projects.
"Villagers found the bodies of these people around the Chinarto district on Friday," said Dost Mohammad Nayab, a provincial spokesman. He said they had been shot.
No group had claimed responsibility for the kidnappings and killings, but local media cited family members as saying that Taliban militants had demanded the release of comrades held by the Afghan government in exchange for the captives.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, nearly 100 students were hospitalized in the western city of Herat when they fell ill, police said.
Abdul Raouf Ahmadi, spokesman for the provincial police, said the students were boys and girls from the same school who "had eaten expired beans and peas from a nearby canteen.” He said an investigation was ongoing.
Kidnapping has become one of the many security challenges facing Afghanistan.
Gunmen abducted 31 bus passengers in February along the Kabul-Kandahar highway. The captives, all ethnic Hazaras, who are Shiite Muslims, have not been released. Government officials say their kidnappers also are demanding that detained colleagues be released.
One of the captives reportedly was killed because he was serving in military.
Ahmadi is a special correspondent.