Afghan government says 100 Taliban prisoners freed Apr 09, 2020 0 395 12345 DPAKabulThe Afghan government said it released 100 Taliban prisoners on Wednesday ahead of potential intra-Afghan talks to end the conflict.The 15 Taliban commanders that the militant group had demanded be freed were not among the 100, National Security Council spokesperson Javid Faisal told dpa.Instead, those released were inmates who had been included on a broader list that the militants shared with US officials, he said. The Taliban has yet to confirm the development.Faisal said the health condition, age and length of remaining sentence were considered in picking the prisoners to release.He described it as a goodwill effort on the part of the government as well as beneficial in containing the Covid-19 pandemic. There are concerns around the world that jails can become Petri dishes for the outbreak, prompting governments to release low-risk offenders.“The National Directorate of Security and the Attorney General’s Office thoroughly vetted the prisoners, who have taken an oath never to return to the battlefield,” Faisal said in a statement.“The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has received the same assurance from the group’s leadership in Doha,” he added.A planned prisoner exchange between the Taliban and Afghan government has proved a thorny affair, leading to the delay of peace talks between Afghan parties.An agreement signed between the United States and the Taliban at the end of February requires the release of up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners and up to 1,000 government prisoners before the start of the intra-Afghan peace talks.It also paves the way for the gradual withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan in return for security guarantees by the Taliban.Wednesday’s prisoner release comes after the Taliban on Tuesday recalled their delegation from Kabul, calling it a deliberate delay in the exchange process.A senior government official on Monday had said that it cannot release 15 Taliban commanders requested by the militants as they had a hand in major bombings in the country. Pages 12 RELATED ARTICLES Virus-hit Iran urges IMF to approve its loan request Apr 09, 2020 0 359 Oman locks down capital Muscat to contain coronavirus Apr 09, 2020 0 1424 Several killed in tribal conflict in east of Afghanistan Apr 09, 2020 0 217 Syria responsible for 2017 chemical attacks: OPCW AFP The Hague The world’s chemical weapons watchdog on Wednesday for the first time explicitly blamed Syria for toxic attacks in the country, saying President Bashar al-Assad’s regime used sarin and chlorine three .. Iran’s president outlines three-phase lifting of COVID-19 lockdown Tehran Iran’s president on Wednesday described how his country will go about lifting coronavirus lockdown measures as the outbreak is slowly brought under control. “Of course we don’t want any more coronavirus .. Iran continues work on nuclear programme despite pandemic Tehran Iran is continuing to develop its nuclear programme even as the Covid-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on the country, the government said on Wednesday. Ali Akbar Salehi, who heads Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, .. Half-a-million more Zimbabweans now acutely hungry: WFP Harare The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said on Wednesday that hundreds of thousands more people had slipped into the severely-hungry category in Zimbabwe, where over half of the population faces hunger. .. Egypt extends night-time curfew for two weeks to fight coronavirus DPA Cairo Egypt will extend its night-time curfew for another two weeks until April 23, which is aimed at preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus, the prime minister said on Wednesday. Egypt initially imposed the ..