Afghan forces free 149 people taken by Taliban, 21 still held

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Kabul, August 20: Afghan officials say government forces have freed 149 people — including women and children — who were abducted by the Taliban just hours earlier in the province of Kunduz.
Nasrat Rahimi, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said the insurgents still hold 21 others hostage following their ambush of a convoy of buses traveling in the Khan Abad district on Monday.
Rahimi said the rescue operation conducted by the security forces has so far killed at least seven Taliban fighters.
Esmatullah Muradi, spokesman for the provincial governor in Kunduz, also confirmed the rescue of the hostages and said the operation continues.
Afghan officials Monday morning said the Taliban had taken more than 100 people, including women and children, hostage in an ambush in the country’s north.
The incident took place despite President Ashraf Ghani’s call for a cease-fire with the Taliban during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
Mohammad Yusouf Ayubi, the head of the provincial council in Kunduz province, said the insurgents stopped three buses on the road Monday near Khan Abad district and abducted the passengers.
He also said the Taliban were likely to have been looking for government employees or members of the security forces.
Abdul Rahman Aqtash, police chief in neighboring Takhar province, said the passengers were fram Badakhshan and Takhar provinces and were traveling to the capital, Kabul.
There was no comment from the Taliban but the area of the incident is under Taliban control. (AP)