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Taliban Kidnaps Dozens in Afghanistan

  • Ayaz Gul

Officials in Afghanistan say Taliban insurgents have kidnapped dozens of passengers in an eastern province near the border with Pakistan Saturday.

The incident happened in the Syed Karam district of southeastern Paktia province.

Provincial authorities and residents say that hundreds of Taliban fighters stopped and searched as many as 30 vehicles for several hours before seizing and driving away dozens of passengers to an unknown location.

Taliban spokesman Zabiuullah Mujahid says that there are "8 important Afghan officials" among around 30 people it took hostage, dismissing official's claims women and children were among them.

Afghan security forces have launched a search operation in the area.

On Thursday night, a Taliban gunman assassinated Paktia's chief prosecutor, Najibullah Sultanzoi, while he was visiting capital Kabul. The Islamist insurgent group claimed responsibility.

The Taliban has carried out repeated deadly attacks on officials linked to the Afghan attorney general's office within the past two weeks.

The rise in insurgent violence has increased insecurity in Afghanistan. A Taliban raid on a guest house in a highly secured part of the Afghan capital Wednesday night killed 14 people, mostly foreigners. There were at least seven aid workers among the dead helping the war-ravaged nation overcome poverty and other challenges. An American, a Briton, four Indian nationals and two Pakistanis were among those killed.

Earlier this month, the government was able to secure the release of 19 out of 31 mostly Shiite Afghans who were kidnapped by gunmen in the Zabul province in February.

President Ashraf Ghani, however, rejected the release was the outcome of a prisoner swap, including dangerous criminals. He insisted that "no money was involved in freeing the hostages, nor any person convicted of any crime was exchanged".

The Taliban said it was not behind that kidnapping and local media suggested it could be the work of militants linked to pro-Islamic State terrorist network trying to establish footprints in Afghanistan.

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