December 20, 2015
Afghan officials say unidentified armed men have abducted five civilians, including a woman and a child, who were traveling on a highway in the country’s eastern province of Ghazni.
Khaliqdad Akbari, chairman of the provincial council, said on Sunday that the civilians were traveling en route from the Malistan district to the provincial capital city of Ghazni, located about 150 kilometers (95 miles) southwest of the Afghan capital, Kabul, when the gunmen stopped their car and forced them out of the vehicle.
Akbari added that the assailants later released the child and his mother, but kept the other three people in their custody.
The Afghan official identified the abductors as members of the Taliban militant group, noting that the fate and whereabouts of the abductees remain unknown.
Head of the Ghazni provincial council added that security forces have launched an operation to secure the release of the hostages.
The Taliban have not yet commented on the report.
Abductions for ransom regularly happen in Afghanistan by bandits, local militiamen and Taliban militants.
On August 18, Taliban militants abducted at least four judges in the northern province of Sar-e Pol at gunpoint, and took them to an unknown location.
Amanuddin Aman, a spokesman for the provincial police chief, said the judges, among them Appellate Court chief, Qazi Mirwais, were abducted in the Tonka district of the province, located 350 kilometers (217 miles) north of the capital, Kabul.
In August, unknown gunmen opened fire on several cars near Qarabagh district of the eastern province of Ghazni, and abducted at least 10 Shia Muslims from the Hazara ethnic community.
Afghanistan faces a security challenge years after the United States and its allies invaded the country in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed Taliban from power, but many areas in the country are still beset with insecurity.