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Afghan government says 100 Taliban prisoners freed

Afghan government says 100 Taliban prisoners freed

DPA
Kabul
The 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.

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