Afghan po­lice searches for kid­napped vil­lagers

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Kan­da­har, Afghanistan - Afghan po­lice on Sun­day launched a search for some 30 vil­lagers still miss­ing two days af­ter a mass kid­nap­ping blamed on Tal­iban mil­i­tants in the south­ern prov­ince of Kan­da­har.

Sev­enty peo­ple were ab­ducted on Fri­day from their vil­lage along the main road in the south and seven of them were found dead the fol­low­ing day along­side the high­way, from the city of Kan­da­har to Tarinkot in Uruz­gan prov­ince.

Around 30 peo­ple have been re­leased while 30 oth­ers re­main miss­ing, Kan­da­har po­lice spokesman Zia Dur­rani said.

It re­mained un­clear why the vil­lagers were seized. But some of­fi­cials said they sus­pected the Tal­iban had kid­napped or killed them for sus­pected co­op­er­a­tion with the West­ern-backed gov­ern­ment which the mil­i­tants are striv­ing to top­ple.

The in­sur­gents have a heavy pres­ence in Uruz­gan, a pop­py­grow­ing area.

On Sun­day they de­nied in­volve­ment, while con­firm­ing they had at­tacked po­lice check­points in the area.

‘Our mu­jahideen killed a num­ber of lo­cal po­lice and pro-gov­ern­ment mili­tias there, also cap­tur­ing 17 sus­pects who were later re­leased af­ter in­ter­ro­ga­tion. We have not killed or kid­napped any civil­ians’, the Tal­iban said in a state­ment.

Civil­ians are in­creas­ingly caught in the crosshairs of Afghanistan’s wors­en­ing con­flict as the Tal­iban step up their an­nual spring of­fen­sive launched in April. High­ways pass­ing through in­sur­gency-prone ar­eas have be­come ex­ceed­ingly dan­ger­ous, with the Tal­iban and other armed groups fre­quently kid­nap­ping or killing trav­ellers.

In July Tal­iban fight­ers closed a high­way con­nect­ing Farah to Herat city in the west, stop­ping a bus and forc­ing 16 pas­sen­gers off it. They shot at least seven of them while the re­main­der were taken hostage.

Else­where in the coun­try, the Tal­iban on Sun­day cap­tured a district in the north­ern prov­ince of Faryab af­ter an overnight at­tack that trig­gered hours of heavy fight­ing, said pro­vin­cial po­lice spokesman Ab­dul Karim Your­ish.

He said troops had re­treated 2km from the cen­tre of Ko­his­tan district. There was no word on ca­su­al­ties.

Lo­cal me­dia on Sun­day also re­ported that the Tal­iban had over­ran Tay­wara district in the cen­tral prov­ince of Ghor.

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