Another Turkish engineer and the car’s driver were abducted, said Naimat Allah Khan, army commander for Zabul province, on Friday. The attack occurred along the Kabul-Kandahar highway in the district of Shahjoy, in Zabul province.

Khan said Afghan soldiers are combing the district looking for the assailants. The Afghan soldier was in the car to protect the engineers, he added. 

Dogan Kamal, a diplomat with the Turkish Embassy in Kabul, confirmed two people - including one Turk - had been killed, but would provide no further details.

Turkish Ambassador Bulent Tulun said Tolga Erdem, 29, was killed and Salih Aksoy, 50, was kidnapped in the attack, according to Turkey's Anatolia news agency. Both men were working on a US-funded project to pave the Kabul-Kandahar highway.

Turkish engineers, most of whom have been involved in the road project, have come under frequent attack in Afghanistan.

Previous abductions

In December, two Turkish engineers and an Afghan were kidnapped near the capital Kabul but freed unharmed days later. It was not clear whether the Taliban were responsible for that incident.

Another Turkish engineer was abducted by the Taliban in late October and released unharmed a month later. Indian engineers working on the highway have also been abducted.

Friday’s incident occurred in the same area of restive Zabul province as several other attacks on foreign aid workers, engineers and Afghan security forces in recent months.

In January, suspected Taliban fighters killed three Afghan soldiers in an exchange of fire with government soldiers in Shahjoy.

In May, Taliban suspects shot two Afghan de-miners in the same area after a failed attempt to find foreigners in the group.

Taliban fighters have been pressing their anti-government battle over a wide-swath of the south and east, despite vows by the US-led military coalition to crush them.