Gunmen capture, then release dozens of de-miners in Afghanistan

Published January 21, 2014

| FoxNews.com

Gunmen have released dozens of civilian de-miners hours after detaining them while on their way to work in Afghanistan.

The governor of Herat province, Faizullah Wahidi, told the Associated Press that the de-miners -- all Afghan -- were released unconditionally after being abducted in the Pashtun Zargun district as they drove to an area that needed to be cleared of mines.

The anti-mine charity The HALO Trust confirmed early Tuesday that between 50 and 60 de-miners were taken. Wahidi told the Associated Press that 63 de-miners were originally detained, but six were later released before the others.

Both the governor and the HALO Trust said they were unsure of the gunmen's motive for detaining the workers. Although the Taliban plant mines and roadside bombs, they generally do not hamper the work of civilian de-miners who work to clear farmlands and other common land of old explosives. The charity said the Taliban had not taken credit for this incident.

The HALO Trust said that the incident was also unusual because of the number of workers detained. 

After 30 years of near continuous conflict and war, Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.

No injuries or fatalities were reported. Afghan police and local authorities were investigating the incident. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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