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KABUL, Jan 29: The Taliban have kidnapped a member of Afghanistan’s peace council during a bid to promote talks in the volatile east, underscoring the difficulty negotiators face in winning support for nascent negotiations from the Taliban front line.

Maulawi Shafihullah Shafih, a low level member of the High Peace Council set up by President Hamid Karzai to liaise with Taliban, disappeared on Friday in the Asmar district of the eastern province of Kunar, authorities said on Sunday.

Mr Shafih, a former education department head in Nuristan province, had travelled from Kabul to meet Taliban and encourage them to join the peace process after Taliban leaders proposed opening a representative office in Qatar.

“As soon as he left his car Taliban captured him,” said Shahzada Shahid, another member of the 70-member council who had travelled to the Kunar capital of Asadabad in an effort to free Mr Shafih with support from community elders.

Fazlullah Wahidi, the provincial governor of Kunar, said Mr Shafih had been carrying a letter from a senior member of the peace council to give to Taliban in Kunar.

A Taliban spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Mohammad Ewaz Naziri, the Kunar police chief, said Mr Shafih had not alerted authorities of his visit.

“He went to Asmar without informing us. We don’t know where and how he went missing,” he said.—Reuters

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