KABUL: Gunmen kidnapped eight ethnic Hazara people from two cars in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday but later released all but one of the hostages, a local official said.

It was the second kidnapping involving members of the Hazara community in less than a month, stoking fears of sectarian violence in this war-weary nation. The passengers were riding in two vehicles in eastern Ghazni province when the gunmen stopped them, said Shafiq Nang Safi, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

Safi said the identity of the assailants and the remaining hostage were unknown.

Another 30 Hazaras are still missing after masked gunmen forced them off two buses in the southern province of Zabul in late February.

Hazaras, who largely follow the Shia sect of Islam, were persecuted under the Taliban’s rule, but sectarian violence has been rare since the group was ousted by the US-led invasion in 2001.

Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2015

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