Subscribe to Breaking News emails

You have successfully subscribed to the Breaking News email.

Subscribe today to be the first to to know about breaking news and special reports.

Gunmen in Afghanistan Halt Buses, Seize 30 Passengers

A member of the Afghan Police stands guard at a check point in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Feb. 24, 2015. Officials said that gunmen dragged 30 male passengers out of two buses and took them hostage in southern Afghanistan. The incident occurred late Feb. 23 in the Shah Joy district of Zabul province, along the Kabul-Kandahar highway. Another official said the kidnappers had masks on their faces and took mostly Hazara Shiite minority Muslims.HEDAYATULLAH AMID / EPA

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

KANDAHAR — Unidentified gunmen in southern Afghanistan stopped two buses traveling to the capital, Kabul, and seized around 30 people belonging to the ethnic Hazara minority, a bus company official said on Tuesday. Hazaras, who largely follow the Shi'ite sect of Islam, were persecuted by the Taliban during the 1990s, when the militant Sunni Islamists ruled most of Afghanistan. Outbreaks of sectarian violence have been rare since the Taliban were ousted by an American-led invasion in 2001, but many Hazaras continue to complain of discrimination and harassment by majority Sunni Muslim groups.

The passengers were forced to leave the buses late on Monday night, after producing documents that showed they belonged to the Shi'ite minority group. "Our drivers stopped for the gunmen because they were in army uniform. They asked for documents," Nasir Ahmad, one of the bus company's managers, said in the southern city of Kandahar. "According to other passengers, most of the people abducted were Hazaras." The Taliban, now leading an increasingly violent insurgency against the government and its foreign backers, did not immediately claim responsibility but said they were investigating. The fate of the missing passengers was unknown, said Ghulum Jilani Sakhi, the deputy police chief of Zabul province, where Monday's abduction took place.

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
A member of the Afghan Police stands guard at a check point in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Feb. 24, 2015. Officials said that gunmen dragged 30 male passengers out of two buses and took them hostage in southern Afghanistan. The incident occurred late Feb. 23 in the Shah Joy district of Zabul province, along the Kabul-Kandahar highway. Another official said the kidnappers had masks on their faces and took mostly Hazara Shiite minority Muslims.HEDAYATULLAH AMID / EPA

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
MORE FROM news

Have feedback?

How likely are you to recommend nbcnews.com to a friend or colleague?

0 = Very unlikely
10 = Very likely
Please select answer

Is your feedback about:

Please select answer

Thank you!

Your feedback has been sent out. Please enjoy more of our content.

We appreciate your help making nbcnews.com a better place.