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Taliban release 17 kidnapped passengers

KABUL: Taliban fighters had freed all the 17 passengers through tribal elder’s mediation in Sar-i-Pul province, an official said, the passengers apparently belong to the Hazara ethnic minority.

Taliban kidnapped 25 passengers including men and women in Sancharak district while travelling from Balkhab district to Sar-i-Pul city, capital of the province.

They passenger bus was stopped by the insurgents. Soon after kidnapping, the Taliban released women and elders, while taking 17 men. After one day, they were also released.

“The passengers, all from Hazaras, were freed late Thursday,” provincial governor spokesman Zabihulah Amani said.

This comes after Taliban stopped busses and kidnapped over 200 people on Kabul-Kunduz highway. They killed 12 people and released others, leaving eight in captivity and took them to the unknown location.

The Chief Executive Office’s Deputy Spokesman Javid Faisal said that five of main perpetrators who were involved in kidnapping and killing of passengers in Kunduz province were arrested. He added that the group leader and his accomplices were arrested in an operation last week.

Officials at the ministry of defence said that eight passengers are in the Taliban captivity, but security forces making their last-ditched efforts to secure their release.

Since kidnapping and killing in highways surged, the United Nation Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in a statement said that it was deeply concerned by the spate of abduction, hostage-taking and summary execution carried out in recent days against passengers travelling in civilian vehicles.

“Taking civilians hostage in indefensible,” said Nicholas Haysom, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA.

“I call for the immediate and unconditional release of all civilians detained and a halt to this horrible practice” he added.

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