Afghan government begins release of Taliban prisoners

Freed Taliban prisoners4
Newly freed Taliban prisoners walk at Pul-e-Charkhi prison, in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The Afghan government has begun releasing the last Taliban prisoners from a final batch of 400 who the militants want freed before they agree to start peace negotiations, a security agency spokesman said on Friday.

The government agreed on Sunday to release the 400 “hard-core” prisoners after consulting a grand assembly of elders and other community leaders, known as a Loya Jirga.

“The government … yesterday released 80 Taliban convicts out of the 400 that the Consultative Loya Jirga sanctioned for release to speed up efforts for direct talks and a lasting, nationwide ceasefire,” said Javid Faisal, spokesman for the National Security Council.

He did not say when the remaining 320 would be set free.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Disagreement over the release of the prisoners, who include some of those accused in connection with some of Afghanistan’s bloodiest attacks, has delayed negotiations for months as the United States withdraws troops under a deal signed with the Taliban in February.

President Ashraf Ghani on Monday issued a decree to release the final batch of prisoners.

The Taliban have previously said they would sit down for peace talks with the U.S.-backed government in Qatar within a week of the release of the last of the prisoners.

The Taliban have always refused to talk to the government, dismissing it as a U.S. “puppet”.

But they agreed to power-sharing talks under the deal struck with the United States, on the withdrawal of its troops in exchange for Taliban security guarantees.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s