28 kidnapped bus passengers in Afghanistan released

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Kabul, June 22 (IANS) At least 28 bus passengers abducted by Taliban militants were freed in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan, police said on Wednesday.

“Following efforts by security forces and elders to secure the safe release of the abductees, a total of 23 kidnapped passengers were freed late on Tuesday and five were released earlier on Wednesday,” Xinhua news agency quoted the police as saying.

In the early hours of Tuesday, Taliban militants intercepted three vehicles in Gereshk district of Helmand and detained the travellers.

Helmand, notorious for poppy growing, is also a Taliban stronghold.

The Taliban-led insurgency has been rampant since early April when the militant group launched its annual rebel offensive in different areas of the country.

The Taliban urged civilians to stay away from official gatherings, military convoys and centres regarded as the legitimate targets by militants besides warning people not to support the government.

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The militants launched several kidnapping attacks recently to snatch off-duty security forces or government workers.

About 17 people were killed in a similar attack in northern Kunduz province late last month.



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