TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Police spokesman Iqbal Baher said on Wednesday that security forces had recovered the bodies in Farah province. Six civilians and one police officer were among those killed by the militants, he added.
The passengers were abducted in province of Farah a day earlier, in an attack blamed on Taliban militant group.
"It is not clear why the Taliban kidnapped and killed them, and we are still unsure about the fate of the remaining kidnapped passengers," media outlets quoted Baher as saying.
The violence came after Taliban militants closed a highway connecting the provincial capital, Farah, to the city of Herat late Tuesday. The armed men stopped a bus and forced 16 passengers to get off.
According to police, they shot at least seven of them, while the remaining nine were taken hostage.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Baher said government forces had launched an operation early on Wednesday to free the hostages and open the highway. They also cleared roadblocks set up by the militants, he added.
Earlier this month, at least six civilians seeking work in Farah were killed after their pickup truck hit a roadside bomb. Afghan authorities blamed the Taliban for the attack.
Highways in Afghanistan passing through militancy-prone areas have become exceedingly dangerous, with the Taliban and other armed groups frequently kidnapping or killing travelers.
In April, the Taliban announced the start of its annual spring offensive against Afghan security forces and US-led foreign troops across the country. The militant group has stepped up offensives in various parts of Afghanistan over the past few months.
Insecurity has gripped Afghanistan since 2001, when the United States and its allies invaded the country as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. Many parts of the country remain plagued by militancy despite the presence of foreign troops.
Over the past 16 years, the Taliban militants have been conducting terrorist attacks across the country, killing and displacing civilians, Presstv reported.
In addition, the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, which is mainly active in Syria and Iraq, has recently managed to take recruits from Afghan Taliban defectors.