Three Afghan election workers were kidnapped by suspected Taliban or al Qaeda insurgents in the northeastern province of Nurestan while suspected Taliban fighters fatally shot a district judge in southern Kandahar province, officials reported Saturday.
The unrelated incidents took place hundreds of miles apart, but they fit a pattern of violent assaults that have escalated in recent months, apparently aimed at disrupting parliamentary elections scheduled for Sept. 18.
The three election workers, all men, were seized Wednesday night after a voter registration program in a village, said Mohammad Yusouf, secretary for Nurestan's governor. The abduction took place in the same district where a female election worker was wounded last week in an attack.
"There were signs of blood in the house from where they were kidnapped and we do not know where they have been taken to," Yusouf said. "We suspect al Qaeda or Taliban were behind the kidnappings."
No group has asserted responsibility for the attacks.
In the fatal shooting of the judge in Kandahar's Panjwayi district, two men on motorcycles shot the unidentified judge Saturday while he was walking to work, District Chief Niaz Mohammed told the Associated Press. No arrests have been made, he said.
The attack came a day after a bombing killed a district administrative official in nearby Shah Wali Kot district. Mohammed Shafi died when a remote-controlled mine exploded as he walked out of his house.
Also Friday, Afghan and U.S.-led forces killed Mullah Kadir, an alleged local Taliban commander in Zabol province's Shinkay district, said District Chief Wazir Khan. Kadir was killed in a firefight after the troops surrounded a house where he was hiding.
More than 700 people have been killed in the outbreak of fighting that began in March, much of it in the southern and eastern provinces.