Taliban kidnap 200 bus passengers, keep 18 hostage, kill 17

Taliban militants killed at least 17 people after abducting nearly 200 bus passengers in the early hours of Tuesday in northern Kunduz province of Afghanistan.

Local government officials, quoted by Khaama Press, confirmed that the Taliban killed at least 12 of the abducted passengers.

However, a security official, Shir Aziz Kamawal, said the militants have killed at least 17 of the passengers after kidnapping them from the Kunduz-Takhar highway.

The Taliban insurgents kidnapped at least 185 passengers after setting up a check post on the highway around 2 a.m.

The insurgents kidnapped the passengers from four buses, three vans and three cars and took them away, the security officials said.

However, the majority of the passengers were released after they were interrogated but at least 17 of them were killed.

The officials also added that at least 18 of the passengers were still in the custody of the Taliban insurgents and efforts were underway for their safe release.

The Taliban insurgents have not commented over the report so far and it was yet not clear why some of the kidnapped passengers were killed.

Kunduz has been witnessing deteriorating security situation during the past few months as the Taliban were trying to destabilise the northern provinces.

The Taliban insurgents briefly captured the provincial capital of Kunduz last year but it was retaken by the Afghan security forces.

Under the new leadership of Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban have vowed that there will be no peace talks with the Afghan government.

The newly-appointed leader of the terror group was elevated to the position after a US drone strike killed Mullah Akhtar Mohammed Mansour and it was believed that under Akhunddzada, the group will follow the policies espoused by founder Mullah Omar, who died in Pakistan in 2013.

As the new leader was announced last week, the group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in the capital that killed 10 people and injured four others, including two children.