Afghans protest in Kabul over kidnapping
Hundreds of Afghans staged a protest in Kabul yesterday demanding greater security after a recent spate of kidnappings that targeted groups of civilians in the country's northeast.
Rights activists, lawmakers and members of civil society, including many women, shouted anti-government slogans targeting President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah as they gathered at a park in the capital.
Chanting "Death to Ghani" and "Death to Abullah", they planned to march on the presidential palace but were stopped by police, with some small scuffles breaking out and a few protesters injured.
The demonstration came after gunmen abducted 40 people in Kunduz earlier this month, the second such group abduction in the northern province in less than two weeks.
Some were released, but an unknown number of others remain in Taliban captivity.
Highways around Afghanistan passing through insurgency-prone areas have become exceedingly dangerous, with the Taliban and other armed groups frequently kidnapping or killing travellers.
Civilians are increasingly caught in the crosshairs of the country's worsening conflict as the Taliban step up their offensive against the Western-backed Kabul government.
"A number of our countrymen were recently martyred and some were taken hostage," Najeeb Barwar, one of the protesters in Kabul, told AFP.
"We have been planning a massive protest for the last several days to seek justice for the victims of the recent kidnappings, and call for the release of those who are still held captive by the Taliban," Barwar said.
"We want the release of the remaining captives by the Taliban as soon as possible," Haroon Motaref, another protester in Kabul told AFP.
The violence underscores Afghanistan's fragile security situation as the Taliban rejected government calls this week for a ceasefire during the holy month of Ramadan.