Afghanistan resumes release of Taliban prisoner

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Reuters

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Some of the last 400 prisoners held by the government were released in August


Afghanistan has resumed the controversial release of hundreds of Taliban prisoners.

A Taliban official told AFP news agency that 200 prisoners have been released by Afghan authorities since Monday, while the Taliban have reportedly released four Afghan commandos.

The release of Taliban detainees was a precondition for negotiations aimed at ending 19 years of conflict in the country.

Peace talks are expected to begin in Qatar days after full publication.

An anonymous senior Afghan official told AFP that “dozens” of prisoners had been released on Monday, with the rest due to do the same “in a few days”.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai welcomed the resumption of the release of prisoners, which he described as “a positive step towards peace in Afghanistan”.

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The release of 5,000 militants was part of a peace deal reached by the United States and the Taliban in February, which was to pave the way for talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

In August, the Afghan government began releasing the remaining 400 Taliban prisoners, after the decision was approved by a large Afghan assembly of elders.

But the whole group has not been released, with France and Australia opposing the release of prisoners accused of fatal attacks on their nationals, including aid workers.

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Three Afghans accused of being involved in the deaths of American troops are among the latest group, according to a Washington Post report last week.

The Taliban were removed from power in Afghanistan by a US-led invasion in 2001, but now control more territory than at any time since then.

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