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Afghan forces rescued nearly 150 people on Monday, including women and children hours after the Taliban raided and abducted a convoy of buses. The quick response marked a rare, if limited, battlefield success for the troops after weeks of incessant insurgent attacks.
The militants escaped after the battle in Kunduz province with 21 prisoners and officials said tribal elders were trying to negotiate their release. Esmatullah Muradi, a spokesman for the governor in the northern province, said the Taliban called for the national identifications of prisoners to determine their fate.
The identity of the prisoners was not published, but Mohammad Yusouf Ayubi, the head According to the provincial council, the insurgents allegedly used the three buses to abduct officials or members of the security forces.
The Taliban have been at war with the US ̵
In the latest attack, the Taliban stopped buses in Khan Abad district and ordered passengers to come with them, according to Nasrat Rahimi, Deputy Interior Ministry spokeswoman. The Afghan forces responded quickly, freeing 149 people and killing at least seven Taliban fighters, he said.
The passengers all came from the provinces of Takhar and Badakhshan in the north and were on their way to Kabul for this week. Adha Holiday, According to Abdul Rahman Aqtash, Police Chief in Takhar Province
The ambush came one day after President Ashraf Ghani proposed a holiday ceasefire and said it would depend on the Taliban's attacks. He suggested that the ceasefire be extended until November 20 when Muslims celebrate the Prophet Muhammad's birthday.
A ceasefire during a major Muslim holiday in June brought with it a rare respite from violence in most areas, with Taliban fighters celebrating on the street alongside security forces and civilians. But the Taliban rejected the government's offer to extend the truce and soon resumed the attacks.
The Taliban have not formally responded to the latest ceasefire bid. Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the insurgent group, said he was still discussing it and would announce his decision soon.
In a message released on Saturday in honor of the upcoming holiday, Taliban leader Maulvi Haibatullah Akhunzadah said that there would be no peace Afghanistan continues as long as the "foreign occupation" continues, reiterating that the group will only deal directly with the United States, which blames her for the 17-year war.
The US and NATO officially ended their combat mission at the end of the year 2014, which has repeatedly come to the aid of Afghan forces in recent years to prevent the Taliban from advancing into major cities. The US has long insisted on an "Afghan-led" peace process between the government and the Taliban, but has recently announced direct talks with the insurgents.
The Taliban have sent delegations to Uzbekistan and Indonesia in recent weeks, increasing their diplomatic profile even while executing deadly attacks. The Taliban said they had met with a US diplomat in Qatar this month, which the group called "preparatory" talks, and said they expected further negotiations.
In the meantime, the families of the prisoners on Monday said little information about their fate.
"Unfortunately, some of my relatives are among the kidnapped passengers and we have no information about their whereabouts," said Hamid Mubarez. "We just call on the government not to wait and make an effort to release the rest of the passengers."
Mir Ahmed, who lives near the attack site, said the Taliban would exercise control of the district] "The government forces can not go out at night," he said. "Even during the day, they can only go in with full strength and air support."