Taliban takes over 100 hostage in Afghanistan

Taliban takes over 100 hostage in Afghanistan

The Taliban militants have kidnapped at least 170 passengers from the highway connecting Kunduz with the northeastern Takhar province of Afghanistan.

Taliban said that during the ceasefire, they will not attack the Afghan troops and other security forces but would defend themselves in case they came under attack.

The announcement by President Ashraf Ghani followed a bloody week of fighting across Afghanistan which saw the Taliban launch a massive assault against the provincial capital Ghazni.

It is now unclear what the group has decided - although it did say it would release "hundreds" of "enemy prisoners" to mark the start of the Islamic Eid al-Adha holiday.

Abdul Rahman Aqtash, police chief in neighbouring Takhar province, says the passengers were from Badakhshan and Takhar provinces and were travelling to the capital, Kabul.

This month the Taliban fought an intense battle with Afghan forces to control the strategically important city of Ghazni.

He said fighting in the area had halted while Afghan authorities used local elders as intermediaries in negotiations with the Taliban for the release of the remaining hostages.

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KABUL-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday proposed a conditional three-month cease-fire in the government's USA -backed war against the Taliban, seeking to regain political momentum following a string of devastating battlefield losses to security forces at the hands of the insurgents.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, told Reuters they attacked the bus after "intelligence inputs revealed that many men working with Afghan security forces" were on board.

Sayed Assadullah Sadat, a Kunduz provincial council member, said earlier on August 20 that the buses "were packed with people and maybe there were army soldiers and police" among those taken hostage.

"We call on the leadership of the Taliban to welcome the wishes of Afghans for a long-lasting and real peace", he said.

Faryab's Bulcheragh district fell to the Taliban on Saturday night and the whereabout of 100 Afghan security forces is still not clear, a source confirmed on Sunday. The heavy casualties underscore the challenges the government in Kabul faces since the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officially ended their combat mission at the end of 2014. The militant leader, Maulvi Haibatullah Akhunzadah, reiterated the group's position that the country's 17-year war can only be brought to an end through direct talks with the United States.

Akhundzada, thought to be hiding in neighboring Pakistan, had previously said the militants would not negotiate with the Afghan government, which he labelled a "puppet".

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