Home Latest News Taliban Deny Kidnapping Shias in Afghanistan

Taliban Deny Kidnapping Shias in Afghanistan

by AFP
File Photo. Banaras Khan—AFP

File Photo. Banaras Khan—AFP

Authorities are still trying to secure release of 30 Hazara Shias abducted while traveling to Kabul.

The Taliban said Friday they were not responsible for the abduction of 30 Shia Muslims in southern Afghanistan last week, as rescue efforts restarted after a halt for bad weather.

Masked gunmen stopped two buses on the road to Kabul from Herat on Feb. 24 and took 30 male passengers hostage, all of them members of the Hazara minority ethnic group. No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction, but kidnappings for ransom by bandits and militias are common in Afghanistan.

The Taliban on Friday issued a statement distancing themselves from the incident. “We consider it necessary to announce to our countrymen that this kidnapping is not linked to our mujahideen, and we are not involved in it,” Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said in the email statement.

Islam Gul Siyaal, spokesman for the governor of Zabul province, where the incident took place, said authorities were still trying to pinpoint where the hostages were being held. He said talks had started with local elders to ensure the “safe release” of the hostages. “For now, we can say, the abducted passengers are still alive,” Siyaal told AFP.

Locals in the area say U.S. unmanned drone aircraft have been patrolling in the area for the last two days. Bad weather forced search and rescue efforts to be suspended, but Siyaal and Zabul deputy police chief Ghulam Jelani Farahi said conditions had improved. “Security forces are in the area, and we will restart our rescue operation,” Farahi said.

Hazara Shia Muslims are often the target of sectarian violence at the hands of Sunni Muslim extremists in Pakistan, though such attacks have been relatively rare in Afghanistan. Nearly 200 Hazara Shias were killed in early 2013 in two major attacks in Quetta, capital of the Balochistan province that borders southern Afghanistan.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment