Gunmen have kidnapped nine Afghans in the country’s southern province of Kandahar, officials say.

Provincial spokesman Jawid Faisal said on Tuesday that the abductees were all landmine clearers. He also added that the men were seized on Monday while driving back from a minefield in the province ' s Maiwand district.

“They had just finished their work in the area and were riding in two cars when they were taken by a group of gunmen, ” he said.

Police reportedly launched an investigation into the incident. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the abductions, but Afghan officials lay the blame on Taliban militants. Meanwhile, Taliban militants captured 11 US military personnel after their helicopter made an emergency landing in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Logar on April 22. Afghan officials said the captives included several Turkish engineers and at least one Russian pilot. They said one Afghan pilot was also onboard the helicopter. Afghan authorities were trying to negotiate with the militants to release the hostages. The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 as part of Washington’s so - called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues to rise across the country, despite the presence of thousands of US - led troops.