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70 villagers kidnapped in Afghanistan, at least 7 killed

Fighters with Afghanistan’s Taliban militia stand with their weapons in Ahmad Aba district on the outskirts of Gardez, the capital of Paktia province, on July 18, 2017. Civilian deaths in Afghanistan hit a new high in the first half of 2017 with 1,662 killed and more than 3,500 injured, the United Nations said July 17. The majority of the victims were killed by anti-government forces — including the Taliban and in attacks claimed by the Islamic State, the report said.FARIDULLAH AHMADZAI / AFP

Seventy Afghans were abducted Friday from their village along the main highway in the south of the country, and at least seven were killed, police said, accusing the Taliban of the kidnappings.

Around 30 villagers have been released but at least 30 others are still missing, Abdul Raziq, the head of Kandahar provincial police told AFP.

“The Taliban abducted 70 people from their house in a village along the Kandahar-Tarinkot highway, Friday. They killed seven of them today,” Raziq said. “Their bodies were found by villagers this morning.”

“They released 30 and are still keeping around 30 others,” he said, adding they were “civilian Pashtuns”, the ethnicity of many Taliban fighters.

The highway runs from Kandahar, the largest city in southern Afghanistan, to Tarinkot, capital of Uruzgan province, a poppy-growing area where the Taliban have a heavy presence.

It is not clear why the villagers were targeted. Government officials and security forces are usually the target of such incidents.

It is unusual for the Taliban to go into villages to take civilians as hostages. In general they intercept vehicles on the road, checking to see if passengers have links to the government.

The incident was confirmed by officials at the Independent Human Rights Commission in Kandahar and Kabul in a statement condemning the kidnappings and executions.

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