Thursday 22 February 2018

Gunmen in Afghanistan seize 30 bus passengers

Gunmen seized 30 members of the eithnic Hazara minority
Gunmen seized 30 members of the eithnic Hazara minority

Sarwar Amani

Afghan gunmen have seized around 30 people from two buses traveling in the southern part of the country.

Those taken belong to the eithnic Hazara minority, a Shi'ite group that were persecuted under the Taliban when the militant Sunni Islamists ruled most of Afghanistan.

The passengers were forced to leave the buses late on Monday night, after producing documents that showed they belonged to the Shi'ite minority group.

"Our drivers stopped for the gunmen because they were in army uniform. They asked for documents," Nasir Ahmad, one of the bus company's managers, said in the southern city of Kandahar.

"According to other passengers, most of the people abducted were Hazaras."

The fate of the missing passengers was unknown, said Ghulum Jilani Sakhi, the deputy police chief of Zabul province, where Monday's abduction took place.

"We are investigating where these people have been taken," he added.

In a similar incident last July, Taliban militants stopped two minibuses in the central province of Ghor and shot dead 14 passengers identified as belonging to the Hazara group.

Outbreaks of sectarian violence have been rare since the Taliban were ousted by an American-led invasion in 2001 but many Hazaras continue to complain of discrimination and harassment by majority Sunni Muslim groups.

The Taliban, now leading an increasingly violent insurgency against the government and its foreign backers, did not immediately claim responsibility but said they were investigating.

Police on Tuesday were also investigating the suspected premature detonation of a truck bomb on the outskirts of the Afghan capital, which officials felt had been intended for the heavily guarded city centre.

Glass shards from broken windows injured a bakery shop worker but no other civilian casualties were reported, said Hashmat Stanikzai, a spokesman for Kabul's police chief.


Police had found six dismembered hands believed to have belonged to insurgents aboard the truck, but they had been unable to match them and determine how many individuals were involved, he added.


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