Operation launched in Zabul to rescue kidnapped passengers
QALAT (Pajhwok): Security forces launched an operation on Saturday on the Kabul-Kandahar Highway in southern Zabul province to recover kidnapped passengers, officials said.
Gunmen took hostage at least 30 civilians after a search of passenger vehicles in Zabul. The latest hostage-taking episode happened at around 7:00am in Nurak area on the outskirts of Qalat, the provincial capital.
A security official in neighbouring Kandahar province said the rebels disembarked a number of passengers from vehicles during the search and shifted them to an undisclosed location.
Khalid Sapi, the Zabul governor’s advisor, told Pajhwok Afghan News an emergency was called to discuss the situation. The participants agreed on launching the rescue operation.
Security forces, jointly led by the provincial police chief and the Afghan National Army (ANA) commander, have been dispatched to the area, Tribal elders are aiding the security personnel.
Earlier in the day, a worker of the Ahmad Shah Abdali Transport Company confirmed three buses of the company, had been stopped by gunmen and nine passengers had since been missing.
The source said the rebels had also intercepted buses of other companies, seizing some passengers.
Last month, gunmen abducted 31 passengers from the Hazara community and Shia sect. Twenty-seven of them released later on as a result of mediation by tribal elders, but four of them are still in captivity.
Some weeks back, the Islamic State (IS) fighters decapitated in Zabul the seven Hazara members they had kidnapped from the Jaghori district of southern Ghazni province.
The civilian killings fuelled anger among the people, with thousands protesting in Kabul and other provinces against the outrage. A fortnight ago, the demonstrators blamed the central government for failing to protect the masses.
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