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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Taliban frees 235 villagers in northern Afghanistan

But an unknown number are still hostages

The Taliban have released 235 civilians held since insurgents seized control of an area in northern Sari Pul province five days ago.

Zabi Amani, spokesman for the provincial governor, on Wednesday said the civilians were released after negotiations between the Taliban and tribal elders. But the insurgents were still holding an unknown number of civilians, he added.

The insurgents have killed 52 civilians, including women and children, in Mirzawalang in Sayad district since he miliants took control of the area, M Amani said.Afghan forces will soon begin an operation to retake the area, he added.

Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for seizing the area, but he denied that civilians were killed in Mirzawalang.