The Taliban killed nine people and abducted 35 more in a series of bus attacks in the northeastern province of Kunduz on the same day that a leading humanitarian organization released a report revealing that the number of afghans internally displaced has doubled in the last three years to 1.2 million because of fighting and attacks.
Province officials said the gunmen, wearing Afghan army uniforms, forced passengers from several busses that were traveling en route to Kabul to disembark from the vehicles in Aliabad district before killing some and abducting others. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the Aliabad district chief and a spokesman for Kunduz's governor blamed the attacks on Taliban militants, who have been responsible for multiple kidnappings across the country, according to the Associated Press.
The bus attacks were also coupled with other casualties and attacks across the country Tuesday. In Afghanstan's eastern Ghazni province, one civilian died and 12 more wounded after an unknown assailant detonated a bicycle bomb, while more than 50 police officers have been killed by heavy fighting between government forces and the Taliban in southern Helmand province in the last two days.
The violence come at the same time that Amnesty International released a report on the impact of the intensifying conflict on civilians. The number of Afghans internally displaced by fighting has "dramatically" doubled to 1.2 million in just three years, the group said in the report, warning that a lack of basic services was putting people on the brink of survival.
The rights group said that situation of people uprooted from their homes in Afghanistan has deteriorated in recent years as global attention and aid money has been diverted to other crises.
"While the world's attention seems to have moved on from Afghanistan, we risk forgetting the plight of those left behind by the conflict," said Champa Patel, South Asia director at Amnesty International.
"Even after fleeing their homes to seek safety, increasing numbers of Afghans are languishing in appalling conditions in their own country, and fighting for their survival with no end in sight," she said in a statement.
The insurgency in Afghanistan has gained strength since the withdrawal of international troops from combat at the end of 2014, and the Taliban are stronger than at any point since they were driven from power by US-backed forces in 2001.
The Taliban launched a spring offensive in Afghanistan last month, vowing to drive out the Western-backed government in Kabul and restore strict Islamic rule.
Amnesty said displaced Afghans lacked proper shelter, food, water, access to healthcare, employment, and education.
"Even an animal would not live in this hut, but we have to," Amnesty quoted a 50-year old woman living in a camp in the western Afghan city of Herat as saying.
"I would prefer to be in prison rather than in this place, at least in prison I would not have to worry about food and shelter."
With food being scarce, some people were struggling to have a one meal per day, Amnesty said.
"We mostly live off bread or spoiled vegetables from the market," Raz Muhammad, a community leader in Kabul's Chaman-e-Barbak camp, told Amnesty.
Access to healthcare was limited to mobile clinics operated by charities or the government, which were only available occasionally, forcing displaced people to seek private care which they could hardly afford.
"If we are ill, then I have to beg and find some money to go to the private clinics," a 50-year-old woman in Herat told Amnesty. "We have no other choice."
The rights group said the international community and the Afghan government must address the needs of the displaced people "before it's too late."