Taliban take at least 100 hostages despite ceasefire with Afghanistan president

Pauline Gross
August 20, 2018

More than 100 people have been taken hostage after Taliban fighters ambushed a convoy of buses in Afghanistan's northern Kunduz province.

The official said Taliban members stopped three buses traveling from Badakhshan and Takhar to the capital Kabul early Monday morning and abducted roughly 150 passengers.

Afghan security forces battled the militants inside the city for five days, as the US carried out airstrikes and send advisers to help ground forces.

"The buses were stopped by the Taliban fighters, passengers were forced to step down and they have been taken to an undisclosed location", Muradi said.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani declared a provisional three-month ceasefire with the Taliban in a televised broadcast Sunday, but said the truce would hold only if the insurgents reciprocated.

The Taliban had taken control of part of Bulcheragh district and more than 50 government forces were missing, he added.

In a statement issued by US Secretary of State Michael Pompei he said: "This plan responds to the clear and continued call of the Afghan people for peace". "The ceasefire will be effective from Monday and conclude on Thursday", said the Taliban shura member on condition of anonymity.

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They have warned they will be releasing 500 prisoners, including some Afghan security forces.

"The United States and our global partners support this initiative by the Afghan people and the Afghan government, and we call on the Taliban to participate".

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.

The announcement came days after Taliban militants captured a military base in the same region.

The militant leader, Maulvi Haibatullah Akhunzadah, reiterated the group's position that the country's 17-year war could only be brought to an end through direct talks with the US.

"I doubt the Taliban would reciprocate given their past stance and recent gains on the ground", said Mir. In a message released on the occasion of Eid al-Adha - and without pointing to any cease-fire - the Taliban leader said on Saturday that the insurgents remain committed to "Islamic goals", the sovereignty of Afghanistan and ending the war. The heavy casualties underscore the challenges the government in Kabul faces since the USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officially ended their combat mission at the end of 2014.

Other reports by GizPress

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