HERAT, Afghanistan (AFP) - Afghan police hunted down and killed two Taleban insurgents who cut off the fingers of 11 elderly men who voted in the presidential election run-off, officials said on Tuesday.
All voters in Afghanistan had their fingers marked with ink after voting to prevent them from casting more than one ballot, but the ink also identified those who participated in the election in defiance of Taleban threats.
"Insurgent commander Mullah Shir Agha and one of his officers were killed in a police operation yesterday in Herat," a statement from the interior ministry said.
"The pair were accused of having cut off the ink-dyed finger of 11 voters."
The ministry said another insurgent involved in the attacks was injured in the operation and held by police.
Local police confirmed the operation, but said two Taleban fighters had escaped.
"The security forces are on them. They are members of Taleban and will pay the price for their crimes," Herat police spokesman Abdul Rauf Ahmadi told AFP.
Mr Jan Kubis, head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, described the mutilations as an "abhorrent" act.
"These ordinary Afghans were exercising their fundamental right to determine the future path of their country through voting and not through violence and intimidation," he said.
One spokesman for the Taleban denied involvement in the attack.
The Taleban had vowed to target voters on Saturday, when two candidates stood in the second-round vote to succeed President Hamid Karzai.