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Gunmen abduct 30 in Afghanistan

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Gunmen have dragged 30 male passengers out of two buses and taken them hostage in southern Afghanistan, officials say.

The incident occurred late on Monday in the Shah Joy district of Zabul province, along the Kabul-Kandahar highway.

“The gunmen who wore Afghan army uniforms were speaking neither Dari nor Pashto (two official languages) and stopped the buses heading from Herat province to the capital Kabul,” district governor Abdul Khaleq Ayoubi said.

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“They have taken 10 men from one bus and 20 from the second. But they did not bother with women and children, who went safely on to Kabul.”

Mr Ayoubi said Taliban militants contacted through tribal elders denied that they had anything to do with the kidnapping.

“I think the kidnappers were the members of the new group called Daesh (an Arabic name for the Islamic State group),” he said.

Another official said the kidnappers had masks on their faces and took mostly Hazara Shi’ite minority Muslims.

“They first asked the passengers for identification cards, and took the Hazaras,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

The Hazara minority ethnic group makes up about 22 per cent of Afghanistan’s mostly Sunni Muslim population.

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