New Delhi/Kabul, April 13 (IANS) The Afghanistan government has so far released over 350 Taliban prisoners out of the 5,000 it committed to free under the US-Taliban peace deal to end the 18-year-old war. The Taliban on Sunday claimed to have released 20 Afghan prisoners.
Javid Faisal, spokesman for the Afghan National Security Council, told local media in Kabul that the government has released 361 Taliban prisoners from jail and will continue to set free up to 1,500 members.
However, under the US-Taliban peace deal, the Afghan government is supposed to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners, as a confidence-building measure ahead of the intra-Afghan peace talks.
Sources said that the Taliban did not reveal the names and identity of the prisoners it claimed to have released in the southern province of Kandahar. The Taliban has promised to release around 1,000 Afghan government troops and civilian workers from its captivity.
Welcoming the prisoner exchange, the US envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, who negotiated the US deal with the Taliban, tweeted, “Both sides should accelerate efforts to meet targets specified in the US-Taliban agreement as soon as possible.”
The release of prisoners, he added, was more important than ever with prison populations threatened by the coronavirus pandemic.
However, neither the Afghan government nor the Taliban have made any announcement about the finalisation of their respective teams for the intra-Afghan talks yet.