Afghan Taliban take at least 100 people hostage

Afghan Taliban take at least 100 people hostage

Mohammad Yusouf Ayubi, the head of the provincial council in Kunduz, earlier said he believed the Taliban had been looking for government employees or members of the security forces.

The buses, carrying passengers from Badakhshan and Takhar provinces, were on their way to the capital, Kabul, according to Abdul Rahman Aqtash, police chief of the Takhar province.

Mr. Ghani said government forces would observe a truce in fighting with the Taliban to coincide with the start on Monday of the three-day Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha and continue it through the commemoration of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday on November 19 if the insurgents reciprocated.

He added: "So far, there is no news on the fate of the passengers, but tribal elders and local officials are trying to negotiate with the Taliban".

He said: "The ceasefire should be observed from both sides, and its continuation and duration also depend on the Taliban's stand".

It came within hours of a proposed ceasefire starting, which was announced by President Ghani during celebrations of the 99th anniversary of Afghanistan's independence.


The Taliban did not respond to requests for comment after the announcement but released a statement saying they planned to free "hundreds of prisoners" during Eid.

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.

The Taliban accepted the three-day truce but rejected calls by Ghani to extend it.

This month at least 150 soldiers and 95 civilians were killed in a five-day battle for control of Ghazni.

Fighting has been mounting in the Taliban's insurgency against the government in Kabul and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation coalition forces, launched after the Islamist group was ousted from power in a USA -led military intervention in 2001.

"It is our hope, and that of the worldwide community, that the Afghan people may celebrate Eid al-Adha this year in peace, free from fear", he added, referring to the Islamic holiday that starts next week.

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