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Taliban rejects Ghani’s call for ceasefire

Kabul, April 24 (IANS) The Taliban has rejected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s call for a ceasefire amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the government’s inattention to “thousands” of prisoners made the President’s appeal “insincere”, it was reported.

Amid escalating violence in many parts of the country, Ghani on Thursday appealed to the Taliban for a ceasefire, citing the special conditions of the countrywide spread of the coronavirus, reports TOLO News.

In his message, Ghani called on the Taliban to stop “killing Afghans”, adding that the government will continue helping vulnerable families during the coronavirus crisis in the country.

Ghani’s appeal comes as dozens of Afghan security force members have lost their lives in Taliban attacks over the last week.

But Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said that asking for a ceasefire was not “rational” or “convincing” as “thousands of prisoners are being put into danger due to the coronavirus and hurdles are created in the way of the peace process and complete implementation of the (US-Taliban) agreement”.

The Taliban is demanding the release of 5,000 prisoners by the Afghan government based on the US-Taliban agreement inked on February 29 in Doha.

The Afghan government has agreed to the release of 1,500 prisoners but through a conditioned and gradual process.

According to National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib, five out of 15 prisoners specifically requested by the Taliban were involved in major attacks in Kabul.

–IANS

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