Afghan government releases 100 Taliban prisoners after ceasefire announced
Iran Press TV
Monday, 25 May 2020 3:24 PM
The Afghan government has released 100 imprisoned Taliban militants in the wake of a surprise nationwide ceasefire that appeared to be holding for a second day.
Afghan National Security Council spokesman Javid Faisal Taliban said on Monday that the militants were released from a military prison located about 50 kilometers north of Kabul.
"The government of Afghanistan has today released 100 Taliban prisoners from Bagram prison," he said, adding that the prisoner release was to "help the peace process" and will continue until 2,000 prisoners are freed.
Authorities plan to carry out the release in batches of 100 people on a daily basis.
The Taliban offered a three-day ceasefire for Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday announced the release of up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners. The president said their release was a "goodwill gesture" designed "to ensure the success of the peace process."
The president also said the government's negotiating team was ready to start intra-Afghan talks as soon as possible.
Violence has escalated since the Taliban signed a deal with Washington in February to withdraw all US forces from the country by early next year.
Under the deal, signed on February 28, the Taliban agreed to halt their attacks on international forces in return for the US military's phased withdrawal from Afghanistan and a prisoner exchange with the government in Kabul.
The Afghan government, which was excluded from negotiations on the deal and was thus not a signatory to the accord, is required to release up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners. But it has reduced the number to 1,500 before the talks start. The militants are obliged to free 1,000 government captives in return, but have reportedly freed only 148.
Washington is compelled under the deal to pull out American forces and foreign troops from Afghanistan by July next year, provided that the militants start talks with Kabul and adhere to other security guarantees.
About 14,000 US troops and approximately 17,000 troops from NATO allies and partner countries remain stationed in Afghanistan.
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