Taliban militants kidnap dozens of bus passengers near Kunduz

Report by BBC says that about 150 people are reported to have been kidnapped after Taliban militants launched an ambush on three buses in northern Afghanistan.

A Taliban spokesman said they were targeting security forces travelling on the buses, adding the civilians would be released.

It comes a day after the government offered a conditional ceasefire.

President Ashraf Ghani said it would come into effect on Monday if the Taliban accepted.

It is currently unclear what the group has decided – although it did say it would release “hundreds” of “enemy prisoners” to mark the start of the Islamic Eid al-Adha holiday.

Esmatullah Muradi, a spokesman for the Kunduz governor, said the bus passengers were taken to “an undisclosed location” after being forced from the vehicles on Monday morning.

The buses were travelling along a highway in an area under Taliban control, en route to the capital Kabul.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, told newsmen they attacked the bus after “intelligence inputs revealed that many men working with Afghan security forces” were on board.

“We have taken the buses to a safe area to prevent any clashes and we are now identifying members of the security forces,” he added, saying civilians would be released.

According to provincial officials, however, the majority of the passengers have already been released, with just 21 still in the militants’ hands.

The Taliban have launched several attacks in recent weeks.

The largest was the assault on the city of Ghazni, east of Kabul, which sparked a five-day battle with government forces that left hundreds dead or wounded. The UN has warned that up to 150 civilians may have been killed.