Unidentified militants seized 47 passengers traveling on a highway in Afghanistan’s Kunduz province on Wednesday, officials said, the latest in a series of kidnappings fueling concerns that the government is losing control of major routes.
Armed men seized people from a bus and car after stopping the vehicles on the outskirts of Kunduz city, which was briefly held by the Taliban late last year. The highway connects Kunduz to the neighboring province of Takhar.
The abductees were taken to the provincial town of Uqtash, a Taliban stronghold, local officials said. Most of Kunduz province is under Taliban control, with the government restricted mainly to the city. There was no immediate claim or motive in the assault.
Officials blamed the Taliban, which on May 30 seized passengers from the same road and killed 10 they suspected of links to the Afghan government and military. Unidentified militants also seized 17 people traveling by road in northern Sar-e-Pol province last week, but all were freed unharmed.
The Taliban couldn’t be reached for comment.
The wave of kidnappings targeting travelers on major highways has raised concern among Afghans that the government is losing the ability to secure major routes, possibly restricting people from traveling between cities.
They follow the appointment of new Taliban leader Maulavi Haibatullah, a hard-line religious chief who assumed power in May following the death of chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan.