MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) _ A leading opposition figure has been found slain, President Charles Taylor announced five days after the man's disappearance.

Samuel Dokie, a member of the Unity Party that supported Taylor's chief rival in the July presidential election, was found dead with his wife and bodyguard Thursday after being detained by police in central Liberia.

The group had been driving from Monrovia, the capital, to the northeastern town of Sanniquellie to attend a family wedding.

The Inquirer, an independent Monrovia daily newspaper, quoted unidentified sources from Dokie's family and from security forces as saying the group was stopped in the Taylor stronghold of Gbarnga, charged with ``security risks,'' and put in jail.

While they were being held, plainclothes security agents burst into the station and abducted them, the newspaper reported. It said their bodies were found inside their burned out car on the highway between Gbarnga and Kakata.

Taylor gave no details of the killings but described them as ``diabolic and barbaric.'' ``It will not go unpunished,'' he said on state-run radio Thursday, and ordered an investigation.

The killings are a likely to set back to Taylor's calls for national reconciliation among Liberia's numerous political factions, most of which battled each other for power during a seven-year civil war that ended with Taylor's overwhelming victory in July.

Taylor has vowed to create a new police and military from remnants of the fighting factions but faces resistance from many political rivals who still don't trust his promises to work with opposition figures.