Taliban fighters have kidnapped more than two dozen activists, whose convoy was going village-to-village to rally for peace, in Afghanistan‘s western Farah province, local officials said on Wednesday.
Massoud Bakhtawar, the deputy governor of Farah, said the activists were travelling with six cars from Herat to neighbouring Farah on Tuesday evening when their convoy was stopped by the Taliban.
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Bakhtawar said 27 activists were taken to an unknown location. Another official put the number abducted at 26.
Bismillah Watandost, a member of the People’s Peace Movement group, said the activists had planned to travel to various parts of Farah to call for peace and a ceasefire between the warring parties in Afghanistan.
He also said that tribal elders in the province immediately launched an effort to negotiate with the Taliban to release the abducted activists.
The People’s Peace Movement group was formed to protest violent attacks after a car bomb exploded at a sport stadium in southern Helmand province last year killing 17 civilians and wounding 50 others.
Since last year, the activists have travelled to various parts of the country, often marching through Taliban-controlled areas to demand peace and a ceasefire between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
The Taliban has previously accused the activists of being financed by the Kabul government among others, which the group has denied.
The Taliban, which is fighting a Western-backed Kabul government, now controls more territory than at any time since its government was toppled by US-led forces in 2001.
The group was not immediately available for comment.
Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians, members of security forces and 2,400 US military personnel have been killed in fighting since 2001.
US officials have increased diplomatic efforts to reach a peace settlement with the Taliban and to withdraw thousands of troops in exchange for security guarantees.