A Japanese aid worker was found dead on Wednesday near the remote eastern Afghanistan area where he was kidnapped a day earlier, Afghan officials said.

Kazuya Ito, 31, and his driver were on their way to work at an experimental farm in the suburb of Jalalabad city when they were abducted Tuesday morning by armed men, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported. The driver was released a short time later, according to media reports.

The daily newspaper said Ito was a member of the non-governmental organization Peshawar-kai and had been in Afghanistan since late 2003 providing agricultural expertise to local farmers, such as help growing sweet potatoes.

Ghafor Khan, spokesman for the Nangarhar province police chief, said Ito was killed by blows to the head, likely with a rock. He also had a gunshot wound to the leg, said Khan.

Afghan police on Wednesday brought Ito's body to Jalalabad city from the remote eastern Afghan mountains where it was found.

The Afghan foreign ministry said Ito was the first Japanese to be kidnapped, a common occurrence in the war-torn nation.

In one of the most high-profile kidnappings, 23 South Korean aid workers were abducted in July 2007 by the Taliban in central Afghanistan. Two were killed and the rest were released the next month.

With files from the Associated Press