Afghan Taliban kidnap dozens of bus passengers near Kunduz

Leroy Wright
August 20, 2018

The Taliban ambushed a convoy of buses on Monday on a road in northern Afghanistan and took dozens of people hostage in the latest brazen assault by militants, provincial officials said.

The fate of the abducted in Kunduz province - in an area that has recently fallen under Taliban control - was not immediately known and there was no statement from the insurgents.

Rahimi said the rescue operation had killed at least seven Taliban fighters before the militants fled the scene.

By Sunday, the Taliban was expected to approve of the ceasefire, but leaders of the group said it might not be announced publicly.

In the meantime, Mahzon said the kidnapped passengers were on their way to Kabul province when they were kidnapped.

Ayubi said he believed the Taliban were looking for government employees or members of the security forces who usually return home for the holidays.

President Ashraf Ghani called for a month-long ceasefire during the Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha, but insurgents acted within hours of it starting.

Esmatullah Muradi, a spokesman for the governor of Kunduz province, said the kidnapping happened when three buses were travelling through Kunduz from Takhar province, on their way to the capital, Kabul.

On Saturday, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, Maulvi Haibatullah Akhunzadah, said that there will be no peace in the country as long as the "foreign occupation" continues.

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A senior official in Ghani's office said the "conditional" ceasefire would run for three months.

The United States said it welcomed the move, which is conditioned upon Taliban participation.

They have warned they will be releasing 500 prisoners, including some Afghan security forces.

He called on the Taliban to honour the well of the people and get ready for peace talks in the light and spirit of national and Islamic values.

"It is our hope, and that of the worldwide community, that the Afghan people may celebrate Eid al-Adha this year in peace, free from fear", he added, referring to the Islamic holiday that starts next week.

The announcement came days after Taliban militants captured a military base in the same region.

"I doubt the Taliban would reciprocate given their past stance and recent gains on the ground", said Mir.

There were no immediate reports of casualties. The heavy casualties underscore the challenges the government in Kabul faces since the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officially ended their combat mission at the end of 2014.

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