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Taliban Free Abducted Hazaras in Afghanistan

by AFP
Anti-Taliban protesters in Kabul. Wakil Kohsar—AFP

Anti-Taliban protesters in Kabul. Wakil Kohsar—AFP

Local elders, residents negotiated release, according to provincial governor.

Seventeen Shia Hazaras kidnapped in northern Afghanistan have been released, officials said Friday, after gunmen hauled them out of their vehicles in the latest assault on the ethnic minority group.

The incident on Wednesday in Sar-e-Pul province comes amid a spate of attacks against civilian vehicles, underscoring a worsening security situation after the Taliban named a new leader last week. “We secured the release of 17 passengers abducted by Taliban gunmen” late Thursday, said provincial governor Zaher Wahdat. “Local elders and residents mediated for their safe release,” he said, adding that all 17 were civilians with no government connections.

The Taliban have so far not commented on the incident.

There has been a surge in violence against Hazaras, a community that has suffered a long history of oppression, with a series of kidnappings and killings in recent months. The latest incident came after the Taliban killed 10 bus passengers, many of them summarily executed, and kidnapped dozens of others in northern Kunduz province earlier this week.

The insurgents said they were targeting Afghan security officials aboard the buses passing through the insurgency-prone district of Aliabad.

Regional police commander Shir Aziz Kamawal said a handful of passengers from the Kunduz attack were still in Taliban captivity. “The hostages have been spread out into several villages in Chardara district of Kunduz,” Kamawal said. “Village elders are trying to secure their release.”

The violence underscores Afghanistan’s fragile security situation as the militants intensify assaults against government forces after launching their spring offensive in April.

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