KABUL: The Afghan government has released 100 more Taliban prisoners, the Afghan National Security Council (NSC) said yesterday. The NSC posted several photos of the prisoners on Twitter and said that they had been released on April 11.
The council said in a statement that the health condition, age, and length of the remaining sentences were considered in choosing which prisoners to release. The Afghan government has freed a total of 300 Taliban prisoners since April 8.
Meanwhile, Taliban insurgents said they will release 20 government officials in the first phase of their commitments under a historic peace deal with the United States. The deal calls for the Afghan government to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for 1,000 government officials held by the insurgents.
Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office, said in a tweet on Sunday that the first government prisoners would be handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross in the southern Kandahar province.
The exchanges come after the Taliban met the head of US forces in Afghanistan to call for an end to what the group says is an increase in American attacks since the peace deal was signed in February, allegations the US military denied.
On Saturday, a US military spokesman called on the Taliban to stop attacking Afghan security forces. He said American troops would continue to assist government forces in accordance with the agreement.
The peace deal is aimed at paving the way for the US to extricate itself from the 19-year war, America’s longest. The spokesman confirmed that Gen Scott Miller met with the Taliban “as part of the military channel established in the agreement” to discuss ways to reduce the violence.
According to the Taliban spokesman, the meeting was held late on Friday in Qatar, where the insurgent group maintains a political office. Shaheen tweeted that the two sides held “serious” discussions. He said the Taliban called for a halt to attacks against civilians. The US military says it does not target non-combatants.
At the meeting with Gen Miller, the Taliban accused the US of bombing its insurgents in their homes, contrary to the peace deal.
Afghanistan has imposed a lockdown in several cities to curb the spread of the new virus and has so far recorded 607 confirmed cases and 19 deaths.
The Kabul Time