Picture shown is for illustrative purposes only.
The Taliban ambushed a peace convoy in western Afghanistan and abducted 26 activists, members of a peace movement, a police spokesman said on Wednesday.
The insurgents staged the ambush in the district of Bala Buluk in Farah province on Tuesday. The Taliban forced the six-vehicle convoy to a halt, then got into the cars and drove them and the activists to an unknown location, said the provincial police spokesman Mohibullah Mohib.
According to Mohib, a police operation is underway to locate and free the activists whose convoy was going village-to-village to rally for peace.
However, Bismillah Watandost of the People's Peace Movement of Afghanistan, to which the activists belong, said that 27 of their members were abducted by the Taliban in the Farah assault. The different figures could not immediately be reconciled.
The Taliban, who have been active in Farah, have not claimed responsibility for the abductions. However, Watandost also said that tribal elders in the province immediately launched an effort to negotiate with the Taliban to release the abducted activists. He added that phone lines were down in the region, making communication and getting information from the area difficult.
The Taliban today hold sway or control practically half of Afghanistan and are at their strongest since the 2001 US-invasion. They continue to stage near-daily attacks targeting Afghan and US forces, as well as government officials - even as they hold peace talks with a US envoy tasked with negotiating an end to the 18-year conflict, America's longest war.
The latest rallies by the activists from the People's Peace Movement of Afghanistan started on Friday, first in southern Helmand province, a Taliban heartland.
At a similar series of peace rallies in October, the Taliban abducted six activists from the movement in eastern Logar province but released them the same day.
Stakes are high for the talks which follow a week of US-Taliban negotiations with both sides eyeing a resolution to the bloody 18-year conflict.
The Taliban have steadfastly refused to discuss peace with Ghani, whom they consider a US stooge heading an illegitimate regime.
Now is the “right moment” for peace in Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani said on Wednesday as he once more called on the Taliban to negotiate with his government.
Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana said police were alerted by members of the public to the incident at Scenery Park, about three kms from the city centre.
"While this bill doesn't do everything I want, it does include actions I've long called for that are going to save lives," he said at the White House before leaving for two major diplomatic summits in Europe.
Four explosions were heard at around 6:30am (0330 GMT), half an hour after air raid sirens sounded in the capital, which has not come under Russian bombardment for nearly three weeks.