9 abducted passengers released, rescue mission intensifies
KABUL (Pajhwok): Nine abducted passengers have been released and effors underway to relese the rest from their kidnappers in southern Zabul province, the Ministry of Interior said on Sunday, a day after gunmen took hostage 30 people from vehicles near the provincial capital, Qalat.
MoI spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told reporters here that security forces launched operation soon after receiving information about the abduction of more than two dozens of passengers by unknown gunmen on the Kabul-Kandahar highway.
The gunmen took at least 30 civilians hostage from vehicles they searched in Nurak area of Qalat at around 7:00am on Saturday. Some sources put the number of those abducted between 14 and 20.
Authorities in Zabul said they had stepped up efforts to secure the release of the abducted individuals and had engaged tribal elders in this regard.
Khalid Sapi, a senior advisor to the governor, told Pajhwok Afghan News an emergency security meeting took place and decided to seek help from local tribal elders in releasing the passengers.
Tribal elders would establish contacts with the militants involved in the hostage-taking, he said, adding that the meeting participants agreed on launching a rescue operation.
Former president Hamid Karzai condemned the abduction of civilians and termed it the handiwork of Afghanistan enemies.
Karzai stressed unity among the people of Afghanistan and urged them to frustrate enemy designs who wanted to divide the Afghans.
Sediqi said police patrols on of highways had been increased and new posts established to prevent such incidents.
The Interior Ministry spokesman said necessary measures were being considered to reform the police after a fact-finding committee presented its findings to the government about the fall of Kunduz city, the capital of northern Kunduz province.
Leadership failure was the main factor behind the fall of Kunduz City to the Taliban insurgents, the head of the government-appointed inquiry commission said on Saturday.
Misuse of resources and lack of coordination among security forces were the other principal reasons for the brief capture of the capital of northern Kunduz province, said Amrullah Saleh, an ex-spymaster.
The strategic city collapsed after a few hours of clashes on September 28. The Taliban remained in control of the city for three days before government forces wrested it back after a two- week operation.
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