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Afghan governor says bodies of 2 missing Germans found in mountains, cause of death uncertain
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) ' The bodies of two Germans who went missing nearly three weeks ago while hiking in the Hindu Kush mountains were found in sacks under a boulder in eastern Afghanistan Monday, a governor and a police general said.
Abdul Basir Salangi, the governor of eastern Parwan province, said the men were found under a large boulder about (2 miles) four kilometers from the south end of the Salang Pass, where they began their hike on Aug. 19. He had no other details.
Police Gen. Rajab, who like many Afghans goes by only one name, said the two bodies were inside cloth sacks. He did not know exactly how they died.
The deputy provincial police chief, Ziaul Rahman, said the bodies were very high up on the mountain and he had requested a helicopter to get them down.
In unrelated incidents, a roadside bomb and a suicide bomber killed eight people and wounded 20 in two separate attacks around the country, the Interior Ministry said.
Five civilians were killed Monday when a roadside bomb detonated next to their vehicle in western Afghanistan's Faryab province. It added that in another incident late Sunday in southern Kandahar city, a suicide bomber in a car killed three Afghan private security guards and wounded another 20. The guards were part of a convoy and had stopped for evening prayers when the attack occurred. The ministry provided no other details on either incident.
The region where the Germans went missing is not a Taliban area, and last month Afghan police speculated the two men could have gotten lost in the high mountains or may have been the victims of a crime. The agency they were working for has not been named.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said on Aug. 23 that German and Afghan officials were searching for the pair and could not rule out kidnapping.
In Berlin Monday, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Andreas Peschka said that his office was aware of the reports, but was unable to confirm the Germans had been killed, or give any further details.
"I can only say that we are pursuing all angles to clarify the situation as swiftly as possible," he said.
The day they went missing, the two traveled to the south end of the Salang Pass, north of Kabul, around 8 a.m. and told their driver they were going into the mountains. They promised to return at 4 p.m. and the driver waited until 6 p.m. before contacting local authorities, and the search began.
The Salang Pass is a major route through the Hindu Kush mountains that connects the Afghan capital, Kabul, with the northern part of the nation.
Germany has been a major contributor to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan and currently has some 5,200 troops stationed in the country, largely in the north.