18 passengers released, 25 still in Taliban captivity
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): Local officials on Tuesday said the Taliban had released 18 passengers they kidnapped in the Greshk district of southern Helmand province.
At least 25 otherpassengers are still in Taliban’s custody. Hours earlier, the militants hijacked a bus full of passengers and two trucks in the district.
Omar Zwak, the governor’s spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News the insurgents had freed 18 of the passengers, including children and women, but 25 were still in their captivity.
Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers had launched an operation to rescue the rest of the captives, he said.
Lt. Col. Mohammad Rassoul Zazai, spokesman for the 215th Maiwand Military Corps, confirmed they were conducting an operation to free the passengers.
However, the Greshk police chief, Capt. Mohammad Ismail Khpalwak, said 25 passengers were released and 18 others were still in Taliban captivity.
Residents of the Malgir area of Greshk said the Taliban had shifted the passengers to the Babaji area of Lashkargah, the capital of the province. The area in the fourth police district has been under Taliban’s control for the past eight months.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadiconfirmed the incident and said the militants had seized suspect passengers from the three vehicles.
He said a number of the individuals had been released, but 27 others believedto be security personnel had been taken to a safe place.
Investigation would be over soon and those found innocent would be freed, Ahmadi promised. But those working for security agencies would be brought to justice, he concluded.
The Taliban have recently stepped up mass kidnappings of passengers on highways. Hundreds of travellers faced similar situations in Kunduz and Takhar provinces in recent days.
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