The Taliban killed at least 16 people Tuesday and kidnapped dozens of others after pulling them off buses in northern Afghanistan, officials said, the latest assault since the insurgents named a new leader last week.
The Taliban have so far not commented on the incident in Aliabad district in the volatile province of Kunduz, where the insurgents briefly overran the provincial capital in a stunning military victory last year.
Up to 200 passengers were travelling in four buses towards Kabul on Tuesday morning when they were stopped by the Taliban gunmen, with some killed on the side of the road at point-blank range, officials said.
“The Taliban shot dead 16 passengers and they are still holding more than 30 others,” said Sayed Mahmood Danish, spokesman for the governor of Kunduz.
Police commander Shir Aziz Kamawal gave a death toll of 17. The identities of the passengers have not been confirmed.
Highways around Afghanistan passing through insurgency-prone areas have become exceedingly dangerous, with the Taliban and other armed groups frequently kidnapping or killing travellers.