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Seventeen Minority Hazaras Kidnapped In Afghanistan

Afghan officials say gunmen have kidnapped 17 members of the Hazara minority traveling in vehicles in northern Afghanistan -- the second group abduction this week.

The governor of Sar-e-Pul Province, Zaher Wahdat, said the passengers, all civilians, were pulled out of their vehicles in Sancharak district on June 2 and taken to an area controlled by the Taliban.

There was no immediate comment from the Taliban.

Mohammad Noor Rahmani, head of the provincial council, said the kidnapping occurred a day after a Taliban commander in the area was detained by Afghan forces.

"The Taliban may have abducted the passengers to exchange them with their local commander," Rahmani added.

Hazaras are a Persian-speaking, Shi'ite community that has long been persecuted in Afghanistan.

The incident comes two days after the Taliban killed at least 13 people and took several others hostage after ambushing a bus convoy in the northern province of Kunduz.

Two of the hostages were later found dead.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters