At least 70 Afghans have been abducted by Taliban extremists in a series attacks in southern Kandahar Province, the provincial police and governor’s office say.
Abdul Raziq, head of Kandahar provincial police, on July 22 said the attackers kidnapped the villagers from homes along the main highway in the province, later killing at least seven of them.
"The Taliban abducted 70 people from their houses in a village along the Kandahar-Tarinkot highway on (July 21). They killed seven of them," Raziq said. "Their bodies were found by villagers this morning."
Various reports said 20-30 of the villagers were later released or escaped and that about 33 remain in captivity.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, although the Taliban has a heavy presence in the region, which is known as a poppy-growing area and for the production of opium.
The extremist group has often targeted government officials and security forces for attack, but the Taliban has been also known to kidnap civilians for use as hostages.
Afghan security forces are battling a 16-year-long insurgency led by the Taliban, an extremist group that was driven from power after a U.S.-led invasion following the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States.
The United States, which has had as many as 100,000 troops in the country, now has about 8,500 but is considering sending 3,000 to 5,000 additional military advisers to help train and assist Afghan forces.