Kidnapped Briton found dead in Afghanistan

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The Independent Online

In a statement released through the Foreign Office yesterday, relatives of Mr Addison said: "David was a very loving husband and father and he will be sorely missed. We ask that our privacy is respected as we come to terms with this sad news." Little is known about Mr Addison: his family have asked the police that no details about him be made public.

His death comes amid the violence that has risen drastically in Afghanistan this year, with US-led forces fighting full-scale battles against the resurgent Taliban. Two months ago, the Taliban shot down an American helicopter with 16 soldiers on board. It also comes just two weeks before parliamentary elections set for 18 September, which the Taliban have vowed to disrupt.

The Foreign Office said yesterday that details of how Mr Addison died were not yet clear, but blamed the Taliban for his abduction. A well-known Taliban spokesman issued a claim of responsibility for the kidnapping earlier in the week, before Mr Addison's body was found.

But the claim was greeted with some scepticism. Mr Addison was abducted in Farah province in western Afghanistan, an area where the Taliban are not thought to be active, and which is better known for criminal gangs -- and the Afghan authorities at first said they believed he had been kidnapped by criminals and would be held for ransom.

Mr Addison was abducted along with his Afghan interpreter after the convoy he was travelling in was ambushed by gunmen on the road between Herat and Kandahar. Three Afghan policemen travelling with the convoy were killed in the ambush. A Taliban spokesman, Abdul Latif Hakimi, said Mr Addison was slightly injured by a bullet in the hand, but had received treatment for it.

The local police chief said that Mr Addison's kidnappers had fled with him into the nearby mountains. His body was found yesterday by special forces sent to search for him at the request of the Foreign Office, but the soldiers did not find any trace of his captors. "This was a location and rescue mission. Unfortunately, it never got beyond the rescue stage," said a British embassy official.

"With great sadness, I have to report that in the course of the operation they found a body, which is presumed to be that of David," said Kim Howells, the Foreign Office minister. "On behalf of the Government, I would like to express deep condolences to his family and friends. We are very grateful to all of the forces who took part in the operation for their professionalism. We continue to work closely with the Afghan authorities, and are grateful for their support."

There has been no word of Mr Addison's Afghan interpreter whose fate is unknown.