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Passengers’ abduction: Activists set up protest camp outside parliament

By Akhtar M. Nikzad-KABUL: The Labor and Development Party (LDP) and large number of rights activists set up a protest camp outside the parliament for release of the 31 passengers who were abducted by armed men on the Kandahar-Kabul highway around 24 days ago.

The protestors gathered outside the parliament on Saturday and chanted anti-Taliban slogans and said the government is reluctant to secure release of the abducted passengers.

They alleged that the passengers were kidnapped by the Taliban aimed at sparking tribal and ethnic feud. They claimed the passengers were not abducted by Islamic State but by the Taliban militants.

After news reports emerged about kidnapping of the 31 passengers, the Taliban’s spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi in a statement immediately rejected the allegations about their involvement.

At least 31 passengers belonging to Hazara ethnic minority were abducted around 20 days ago from Shah Joy district of Zabul by armed masked men.

Chief of the LDP, Zulfiqar Omid, criticized the government for failure to release the hostages, and claimed the leaders have adopted discriminatory approach about release of abductees.

He said that in the past 20 days the government has failed to appoint a commission to investigate the case and identify the abductors. Omid warned that if the government does not pay attention and failed to secure release of passengers, the issue would lead to sedition and the leaders would not be able to control the situation.

He said if the captivates were not released they would launch nationwide protest.

In the past few days the Afghan security forces conducted operations in different parts of Zabul province to release the hostages. Around 130 insurgents had been killed in the operations but could not trace the abductors.

Recently, provincial officials told media that the military operations launched for rescuing the hostages has ended but efforts are underway to find the location where the kidnappers kept the passengers. So far all the efforts by the government and tribal elders in Zabul, Kandahar and Helmand provinces for rescuing the kidnapped passengers have been failed.

Meanwhile, Speakers of the Wolesi Jirga, Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, asked the government to accelerate the efforts in order to secure safe release of the 31 passengers.

He said that all efforts of the government ended without no result. He said it is duty of the state to protect lives and property of public and ensure security across the country.

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