Suspected Taliban fighters have halted two minibuses in the western province of Ghor, identified 14 Shia Hazara passengers, including three women and a child, bound their hands, then shot them dead by the side of the road, an official has said.

The buses were travelling from Kabul, where many of the passengers had gone to the capital to shop ahead of the holiday weekend, said the provincial governor, Sayed Anwar Rahmati.

"The insurgents stopped two vans and after checking peoples' identifications cards, they separated 14 passengers from 32 others and shot them dead," said the governor.

The dead included a couple who were engaged and two relatives travelling with them, Rahmati said, adding the other passengers were released.

The Taliban view the country's minority Shia community as apostates, and have targeted Hazaras in the past with suicide bombings and other attacks.

Many of the Hazaras, believed to be descended from Mongol invaders, suffered enormously under Taliban rule and the minority saw many of its communities levelled.

Many were killed and buried in mass graves or thrown into wells, the Reuters news agency reported.

Tens of thousands were jailed. They still believe they are treated as second-class citizens and that President Hamid Karzai has done little to improve their lot.

Source: Agencies