Afghan official says Taliban abducted 26 peace activists

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The Taliban have not claimed responsibility for the abductions but a police operation is underway to locate and free the activists

Dec 25, 2019

December 25, 2019

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The Taliban ambushed a convoy in western Afghanistan and abducted 26 peace activists, a police spokesman said on Wednesday.

The insurgents staged the ambush in Bala Buluk, Farah province, on Tuesday, forcing the six-vehicle convoy to a halt, getting into the cars and driving them and the occupants away, said the provincial police spokesman Mohibullah Mohib.

Mr Mohib said a police operation was underway to find and free the activists, whose convoy was moving from village to village to rally for peace.

Bismillah Watandost of the People’s Peace Movement of Afghanistan, to which the campaigners belong, said 27 of its members were abducted by the Taliban in the assault.

The discrepancy between the figures could not immediately be reconciled.

The Taliban, who have been active in Farah, has not claimed responsibility for the abductions. But Mr Watandost also said tribal elders in the province launched immediate negotiations with the Taliban to release the missing activists. He said phone lines were down in the region, making communication and getting information from the area difficult.

The Taliban today hold sway or control practically half of Afghanistan and are at their strongest since the 2001 US invasion. They continue to stage near-daily attacks targeting Afghan and US forces, as well as government officials – even as they hold peace talks with a Washington envoy negotiating an end to the 18-year conflict, America’s longest war.

The latest rallies by the People’s Peace Movement of Afghanistan started on Friday, first in southern Helmand province, a Taliban heartland.

At a similar series of events in October, in eastern Logar province, the Taliban abducted six activists from the movement but released them the same day.

Updated: December 25, 2019 05:29 PM

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