Taliban insurgents are holding more than 20 bus passengers in Afghanistan’s northern province of Kunduz, provincial spokesman Ismatullah Muradi told CNN.
The official said Taliban members stopped three buses traveling from Badakhshan and Takhar to the capital Kabul early Monday morning and abducted roughly 150 passengers.
Afghan security forces arrived at the scene and managed to free most of the passengers, including some women and children, but 21 people are still captive, Muradi said.
Zabiullah Mojahid, a Taliban spokesman, told CNN the insurgent group had received reports that there were Afghan security forces among the passengers and they stopped the buses to investigate.
He said his forces had not kidnapped the passengers but had taken them to a safe place near the highway to question them and will free them after the investigations are finished.
The abductions come a day after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offered a month-long ceasefire with the Taliban beginning Monday, if the militant group agrees to honor it. There has been no response from the Taliban.
The Islamist insurgents have increased their attacks in recent years, seizing entire districts across Afghanistan and carrying out large-scale bombings.
On August 10, the Taliban launched a brazen attack on the strategic city of Ghazni, south of the capital Kabul, seizing key buildings and trading fire with security forces. At least 150 people were killed and 40 injured, the majority of them Afghan security forces.
That same week, 39 soldiers died in Baghlan province when the Taliban overran their base. And 17 troops were also killed when their base in Faryab was also overrun.
Last Wednesday, at least 34 people were killed in a suicide attack targeting an education center in Kabul. Among the victims were dozens of students learning English.