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Taliban kidnap 25 people, kill 5 in Afghanistan

IANS | Kabul |

The Taliban have kidnapped 25 bus and car passengers, killed five police officers and injured six more on a highway connecting the southern Urozgan and Kandahar provinces of Afghanistan, an official told Efe on Wednesday.

The spokesperson of the governor of Urozgan, Dost Mohammad Nayaab, told Efe that at least 25 people had been kidnapped by the Taliban.

Kandahar Police spokesperson Zia Durranai said the incident occurred when dozens of rebels intercepted cars and buses between the two provinces on Tuesday night.

The kidnapped people include a number of off-duty police officers, he added.

Five police officers were killed and six were injured during a clash between the Taliban and the security forces at a nearby check-post, Durranai said.

The spokesperson said that the Taliban rebels were wearing military uniforms to deceive passengers and security forces and, after kidnapping the passengers, took them to an unknown location between the provinces of Urozgan and Kandahar.

The highway passes through an unsafe region of Urozgan where the Taliban control most of the area.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday offered to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate political group as part of a proposal to start negotiations to end more than 16 years of conflict.

Ghani’s announcement came two days after the insurgent group proposed a direct dialogue with the US, the first offer of its kind made publicly by the militants, who have refused to talk with the Afghan government and the US for years.

Afghanistan is witnessing one its bloodiest periods since the end of the NATO combat mission in 2015.