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Afghan government releases 100 ‘dangerous’ Taliban prisoners

Taliban Prisoners (MOECKLI, Olivier/WikiCommons)
September 01, 2020

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Afghan officials say they have released about another 100 Taliban prisoners as part of a prisoner swap meant to clear the way for the start of peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban.

Afghan officials have described the remaining prisoners as the most dangerous, accusing them of masterminding attacks on embassies, public squares, and government offices, killing thousands of civilians in recent years.

The release of 400 Taliban prisoners was approved last month at a consultative Loya Jirga in Kabul. Eighty of them were released last month.

The decision came more than five months after Washington and the Taliban made the release of prisoners by both sides a condition for the talks between the militant group and Kabul.

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A government official who did not want to be named told RFE/RL on September 1 that the release of the prisoners will be completed in the next few days and that talks between the government and the Taliban will begin in Qatar.

The official said the process could be completed by September 2 and that an Afghan government delegation will immediately travel to the Qatari capital of Doha for negotiations with the militant group.

The release of the prisoners is the last hurdle to opening peace talks between the internationally backed government in Kabul and the Taliban under a peace deal signed in February between the militants and the United States.