Afghan officials: Taliban killed at least 30 passengers

Other News Materials 19 October 2008 17:10 (UTC +04:00)

Afghan officials said on Sunday that Taliban militants killed at least 30 passengers after they took them hostage in southern Afghanistan, but Taliban said that those killed were Afghan army soldiers, dpa reported.

The militants stopped buses in Maiwand district in southern Kandahar province on Thursday and killed 31 passengers, Defence Ministry spokesman General Zahir Azimi said.

Kandahar police chief Matiullah Khan Qaneh said they retrieved the bodies of six passengers, who had been beheaded by the militants.

Qaneh said that around 50 passengers were taken hostage by the militants, but the militants released 10 and took the rest to the district's Band Timor area.

"According to our information from the area, the Taliban killed the remaining 40 passengers," he said.

Qari Mohammad Yousif Ahmadi, spokesman for the Taliban, said their fighters killed 27 Afghan soldiers after taking them from three passenger buses.

"They were all army soldiers and they were going to Helmand province to support the governor," Ahmadi told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa by phone from an undisclosed location.

But Azimi said that all those killed were civilian. "Army soldiers are not allowed to travel by road. They either fly or travel in military convoy, not in passenger vehicles," he said.