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Japanese aid worker in Afghanistan found dead

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  • NEW: Japanese Foreign Ministry confirmed Kazuya Ito's death
  • Gunmen seize Japanese aid worker and his driver in eastern Afghanistan
  • Locals surround mountain where they believe abductors are holed up
  • Four aid workers killed in attack by Taliban earlier this month
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KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- A Japanese aid worker who was abducted in east-central Afghanistan has been found dead, a local government official said Wednesday.

Kazuya Ito, a 31-year-old worker with the Japan-based group Peshawar-kai, was dragged from his car in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan on Tuesday, the Afghan Interior Ministry said.

His body was found Wednesday, said Yeah Shukerullah Durani, administrative chief of Khewa district in Nangarhar province, where he was abducted.

At a press conference in Fukuoka, Japan, aid group officials said they had received a call from one of their members saying that Ito's body had been found and that he had been shot.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry confirmed Ito's death.

Security forces and hundreds of villagers had been searching the mountains for Ito, said Noor Zaman, deputy director of Peshawar-kai.

Police arrested one of the abductors, Zaman said. When the Interior Ministry was notified, officials initially misunderstood and thought Ito had been released.

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Ito was helping to transfer water from the Kunar River in a neighboring province to the desert-like district where he was working, Zaman said.

This isn't the first time militants have seized vehicles belonging to Peshawar-kai, said its secretary-general, Mitsuji Fukimoto.

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Earlier this month, gunmen fired on another organization's vehicle in eastern Afghanistan, killing four aid workers. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the August 13 attack on employees of the New York-based International Rescue Committee.

Aid groups in Afghanistan issued a report this month that says attacks on aid workers have forced them to scale back relief work.

Journalist Farhad Peikar contributed to this report.

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