Gunmen kidnap 30 Hazaras in southern Afghanistan

The Hazara, who account for as much as 25 percent of Afghanistan’s population, are mainly Shiite. The group has been targeted by the Taliban and other Sunni extremists, who view Shiites as apostates.

The Hazara, who account for as much as 25 percent of Afghanistan’s population, are mainly Shiite. The group has been targeted by the Taliban and other Sunni extremists, who view Shiites as apostates.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Gunmen in southern Afghanistan kidnapped 30 members of the Hazara ethnic community, authorities said Tuesday, in what appeared to be the latest in a series of attacks on Shiites in the predominantly Sunni country.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack Monday afternoon, police and officials said.

The gunmen kidnapped the 30 people, all men, from two vehicles on a major road in Zabul province, provincial Gov. Mohammad Ashraf said. He said all women, children and non-Hazaras were left behind.

Authorities were searching for those kidnapped, some of whom may be government officials, Ashraf said.

Abdul Khaliq Ayubi, a local government official, said the gunmen all wore black clothing and black masks.

The Interior Ministry said the buses were traveling from the southern city of Kandahar to the capital Kabul when the kidnapping was carried out by “unknown armed individuals.”

The Hazara, who account for as much as 25 percent of Afghanistan’s population, are mainly Shiite. The group has been targeted by the Taliban and other Sunni extremists, who view Shiites as apostates.

The predominantly ethnic Pashtun and Sunni Taliban persecuted the Hazara minority during their 1996-2001 rule, when they imposed a harsh version of Islamic law on the country.

___

Associated Press writer Amir Shah in Kabul, Afghanistan, contributed to this story.

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