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article imageMembers of first all-female Afghan orchestra missing in Slovakia

By AFP     Jul 18, 2019 in World

Police in Slovakia said on Thursday they were searching for four members of Afghanistan's first all-female orchestra who went missing from their hotel after performing at a local festival.

Zohra, an ensemble of 35 teenagers and young women musicians played a concert on Saturday at a festival in the western town of Trencin, some 130 kilometres (80 miles) north of Bratislava, near the Czech border.

Four members went missing from their hotel on Sunday, Slovak police said.

"I can confirm that the search for two female teenagers and two female adults from Afghanistan is ongoing," Pavol Kudlicka, a spokesperson for the Trencin regional police, told AFP on Thursday.

He added that the musicians returned to their hotel after the concert but went missing the next morning.

"Due to legal reasons and the ongoing investigation no names can be disclosed for now," Kudlicka added.

Local Slovak media reported that some orchestra members had said that one of the girls had a cousin in Germany.

Some members of Zohra are orphans or from poor families.

They have faced death threats in their homeland where music was banned during the Taliban's repressive 1996-2001 rule.

Music is still frowned upon in much of Afghan society, which is tightly segregated by gender.

Despite the disappearance, the Zohra orchestra, named after a Persian goddess of music, played several concerts in western Slovakia this week.

They have performed at home and abroad, notably at the closing the World Economic Forum in Davos two years ago.

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