KUNDUZ: Taliban insurgents killed nine people and kidnapped 20 others when they held up three buses in northern Afghanistan on Tuesday, while the remaining 140 passengers had to be rescued by Afghan forces, the local deputy police chief said.
The attackers stopped the buses on a road and ordered the passengers out, shot dead nine of them and kidnapped the rest, said Massoum Hashemi, deputy police chief of Kunduz.
“The Taliban have brutally killed nine civilians and taken about 20 with them,” Hashemi said. Afghan forces then rescued the remaining 140 passengers, he said.
The Taliban, who are waging a bloody insurgency to topple the foreign-backed government of President Ashraf Ghani, said they killed six and took 20 members of the Afghan security forces with them.
“After we searched the buses, we detained 26 police and army personnel in civilian clothes with evidence,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.
“Six were killed after trying to escape and the rest are in our custody,” Mujahid added.
The police in Kunduz did not confirm if security forces were among the kidnapped or killed, but Sher Aziz Kamawal, a senior police official, said those killed may have been government employees who were carrying identity cards.
A campaign of kidnappings against Afghanistan’s Hazara ethnic minority has become a source of tension, fuelling concern about sectarian violence. The Hazara are Shia Muslims who are considered heretics by the hardline Sunni Taliban movement.
Since persecuting Hazaras and other minorities during their rule in the 1990s, the Taliban have largely avoided specifically targeting Shias.
But a rise in Afghanistan in the number of militants claiming allegiance to Islamic State, a hard-line Sunni movement that emphasises purging Shias and is a rival to the Taliban, has coincided with a number of attacks on Hazaras. The brief capture by the Taliban of Kunduz last year was a major blow to Ghani’s government.
MANSOUR’S FAKE ID CASE: PAKISTAN ARRESTS TOP EX-OFFICIAL
A top former Pakistani official was arrested on Tuesday for his alleged involvement in the issuance of national identity card to Mansour.
National Database and Registration Authority’s former assistant director Ghulam Muhammad Bugti was arrested by Federal Investigation Agency for his suspected involvement in the issuance of identification papers to the Taliban chief.
Officials recovered a Pakistani identity card and passport under the fake name Wali Muhammad from the site of the attack, prompting interior minister Nisar Ali Khan to announce that those who helped the Taliban chief get the documents will be punished.
An official said Bugti was arrested by the FIA for his role in issuing the ID card in 2002. Bugti retired in 2007. Bugti has been shifted to FIA’s regional office for interrogation.
(With PTI inputs)