South Asia

Taliban seize group of would-be Afghan police recruits

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Taliban insurgents have abducted dozens of men who tried to join the police force in north-east Afghanistan, officials say.

A Taliban statement said the group was ambushed on Saturday in Kunar province.

Village elders are involved in negotations to free the men.

Recruitment for the security forces is being stepped up ahead of the transition to Afghan security control, but the Taliban have warned they will target anyone who tries to join.

Initial reports suggested the men were police recruits.

However the Nuristan police chief told the BBC about 40 men had gone to the district capital to try to sign up but set out for their home villages when it emerged there were no available jobs.

En route they crossed through part of Kunduz province, through an area controlled by the Taliban, and were detained. The insurgents had apparently been told of their attempt to join the security forces.

In a statement emailed to several media outlets, Taliban militants said they were holding 50 Afghan policemen.

According to a Taliban spokesman, the insurgents have detained policemen in the past - in Nuristan and in other parts of the country - but have released them if they promised not to work with the police or the Afghan government.

The Taliban spokesman said the fate of the men would be decided by a council of senior Taliban military commanders in eastern Afghanistan.