The New York-based International Rescue Committee (IRC) confirmed that five Afghan staff members, all men in their 20s, were taken hostage on Sunday and killed by their captors the following day.

A sixth man killed was a local Afghan government representative who was travelling with the IRC team, while separately, six truck drivers who had been taken hostage were also found dead on Monday evening.

The spate of killings came as Karzai ended a two-day trip to Pakistan, calling on Islamabad to help set up peace talks to end 12 years of conflict in Afghanistan.

"The killings show the Taliban and their foreign masters want Afghanistan to remain a dependent and poor country forever," the President said.


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