Taliban release Hazara passengers kidnapped in central Afghanistan
Kabul, Dec 1 (efe-epa).- The Taliban insurgent group has released the 28 civilians of the minority Hazara community, who were abducted by them last week, in the central Afghan province of Maidan Wardak, official sources told EFE on Tuesday.
The abduction occurred on Wednesday in Jalriz district of Maidan Wardak province, when several cars carrying travelers to the capital city of Kabul were intercepted by Taliban fighters on a highway.
“All civilian passengers, who were abducted a few days back by the Taliban were released last night and were sent home,” spokesperson of the Maidan Wardak governor’s office, Muhibullah Sharifzai, told EFE.
Sharifzai added that several passengers had been released the previous day and all the remaining passengers were released overnight by the insurgents.
The government secured the release of the civilians with the help of mediation by local tribal elders, the spokesperson said, without providing further details.
Maidan Wardak Provincial Council’s deputy chief Mohammad Sardar Bakhtyari revealed to EFE that these 28 passengers were released by the Taliban in exchange for several Taliban fighters that had been taken hostage by a local Hazara militia commander over the last few months.
“The 28 Hazara civilians were released in exchange for six Taliban members, who were taken hostage by commander Ali-Poor,” Bakhtyari told EFE.
Women, children and the elderly traveling in the cars did not figure among the 28 civilians abducted last week and were let go by the Taliban.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid declined to comment on the matter.
According to local officials, residents of the Hazara populated areas in this province have for long managed to ward off the insurgents, who have for years tried to enter or attack their villages and bring them under their control.
Central parts of Afghanistan, particularly the Hazara populated areas, have been the safest areas of the country during the nearly two decades of war, as the Hazara community has refused to allow the Taliban to operate in their areas.
In the last two years, the Taliban have on several occasions tried to attack Hazara populated districts and villages. However, most of these were foiled by the security forces with the help of local residents. EFE-EPA