KABUL, June 9 (Xinhua) -- Unknown armed militants intercepted a bus in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz on Wednesday and 47 passengers were taken to an unknown location.
The incident, the second in 10 days in the province, has caused panic among Afghans who travel on unsafe and congested roads in the militancy-hit country.
"I am going to visit my family in Farkhar district of Takhar province on Friday, but I have yet to take final decision because of the possible kidnapping," Awaz Mohammad, a student, told Xinhua on Thursday.
Studying in a private institution, the terrified Mohammad said the Taliban had killed two people from his province Takhar after an abduction in Kunduz last week, triggering fears among many who usually travel by road.
Although locals put the number of abducted passengers in Kunduz as high as 47, a security official, Nasratullah Jamshidi, told Xinhua on Thursday that nine out of the 17 abductees had been released and an operation for freeing the remaining eight passengers was underway.
No group has claimed responsibility for the abduction of 47 passengers in Khanabad district of Kunduz. Provincial police chief Mohammad Qasim Jangalbagh blamed Taliban militants for the kidnapping, saying the militant group by kidnapping innocent passengers want to terrorize the people.
In the incident on May 31, almost 200 passengers were ordered out of three buses, 10 were killed on the spot, eight were taken to an unknown location and the remaining were set free by the Taliban militants.
"Nowadays, travelling by road is a nightmare for me. I have planned to spend Eidul Fitr holidays with my family in Badakhshan but I am concerned over security situation on the road," government employee Abdul Basir told Xinhua.
Basir believed that Wednesday's abduction in Kunduz was not the first and would not be the last attack on Afghan travelers unless the government took necessary measures to ensure highways security.
"Taliban by kidnapping passengers wants to give the message that the control of roads is in their hands," Amrudin Wali, a member of Kunduz provincial council, said, warning that the situation would worsen if the government fails to ensure security on highways in Kunduz and other provinces. Enditem