Ten bus passengers were killed by Taliban insurgents on Tuesday while travelling on the Ali Abad district highway in Kunduz province, police officials confirmed.
In a statement issued by Kunduz police, the Taliban stopped three buses, a number of minibuses and an ambulance on the highway in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Police said they abducted 185 people and then killed 10 before police managed to rescue 154. However 18 are still being held by the Taliban – reportedly in the Omarkhil village in Chahardara district, acting police chief Agha Sharin said.
However, eyewitnesses said almost 200 people were abducted by the Taliban and that it was the Taliban who released the hostages. They also said dozens of passengers are still being held in the Chahardara district.
One of the bus driver’s said: “Our bus was stopped. At first we thought it was military forces. When we switched off our lights we saw they were wearing military uniforms but had bandanas around their heads with the word “kalima” (declaration of faith) written on them.
The driver said that once everyone had disembarked, the Taliban started searching people. All those carrying government employee documents were shot on the spot.
From there the rest were moved to a mosque where dozens more armed insurgents were waiting. He said they then started releasing people before leaving the mosque themselves. However the Taliban reportedly took many passengers with him.
The driver said he had about 60 passengers on his bus when stopped but after being released he only had 12.
TOLOnews correspondent Hamid Shirzai reported that the bodies of 10 victims have been recovered.
Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani voiced his concern over the incident on Tuesday afternoon on twitter.
He said he was “deeply saddened by today’s incident in Kunduz where a number of passengers were abducted and killed byTaliban.”
Ghani stated he has instructed security and defense against “to take urgent measures to rescue our countrymen and track down the abductors.”
He said he “offers his deep condolences to the families of the martyred passengers and prays to Almighty Allah to grant them patience.”