Afghan Taliban kidnap dozens of civilians amid peace efforts, officials say

Afghan Taliban kidnap dozens of civilians amid peace efforts, officials say

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Officials said Sunday that Taliban militants had abducted about 60 civilians in central Afghanistan in the past week. More than half of the efforts made by the United States and other foreign powers to initiate peace talks were still detained.

According to Mohammad Ali Uruzgani, the deputy governor of the province, the Taliban took hostages after a woman fled a Taliban-controlled village in a neighboring province.

Uruzgani added that about 26 people, including women and children, have been released, and the elders of the tribe are mediating to release the remaining civilians.

A Taliban spokesman denied the abduction of civilians.

The militants struggled to reintroduce strict Islamic laws after they were ousted in 2001. They signed a troop withdrawal agreement with the United States in February to pave the way for peace talks with the Afghan government.

However, the violence has intensified since an agreement was reached and the dissatisfaction about the release of Taliban prisoners hindered the progress of the formal talks.

A National Security Council spokesperson stressed the tension, saying that the Taliban killed more than 40 civilians across the country in the past week.

“The Taliban have failed to deliver on promises of reducing violence against the Afghan people and working for peace,” spokesman Javid Faisal said on Twitter.

A report issued by the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan on Sunday drew attention to the 15 attacks on medical personnel and medical facilities during the coronavirus pandemic, blaming the Taliban for most of them.

The Taliban rejected allegations from the United Nations and the government and accused the government of causing civilian casualties last week.

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