By Zabihullah Tamanna
KABUL (AA) - At least ten people were killed and another 18 remain unaccounted for after Taliban militants stopped a number of vehicles on the outskirts of Afghanistan’s northern city of Kunduz, local officials said Tuesday.
Militants set up a checkpoint on the main highway in the Arzaq Angor Bagh locality, where they stopped several passenger buses in the early hours of Tuesday, Hidayatullah Faqiryar, an administrative official in the Aliabad district of Kunduz, told Anadolu Agency.
"The gunmen initially held 220 passengers, about 200 of whom were eventually released," he said.
"The bodies of 10 of them were later found in the area," he added.
Those killed reportedly included a number of off-duty soldiers from the Afghan army.
Local media outlets have reported varying death tolls, but acting local Police Chief Masomi Sapi confirmed that at least 10 people had been killed while another 18 remained missing.
"An operation has been launched in the area to rescue the missing passengers," Sapi said.
The Taliban, for its part, has yet to issue any statements regarding the incident.
Last year, Taliban fighters overran Kunduz province and held Kunduz city for three days before being driven out again by Afghan security forces.
At the time, the dramatic -- albeit temporary -- fall of Kunduz to the Taliban sent shockwaves across the war-torn country, prompting fears the group could capture more territory.
The Taliban still have a presence in certain parts of Kunduz and continue to pose a threat to the strategic province, say observers.