55 Taliban prisoners were released on Wednesday from nine provinces, the Office of the National Security Council said Thursday.
Javid Faisal, the council spokesman, said that the Taliban were released as part of the Afghan government's efforts to "advance peace and fight COVID-19" in the country.
The prisoners were released in Paktia, Logar, Badakhshan, Jawzjan, Ghazni, Baghlan, Khost, Paktika, and Maidan Wardak provinces, said Faisal.
The release of the Taliban prisoners is part of the US-Taliban deal signed in Doha in late February. The Afghan government has so far agreed to release 1,500 Taliban prisoners, instead of the 5,000 prisoners mentioned in the agreement.
Meanwhile, Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s office in Doha on his twitter page said that if the US-Taliban agreement is implemented in full, this will help all parties to the conflict to reach to a ceasefire and peace in Afghanistan.
“The Taliban has accepted a comprehensive mechanism in the agreement with the US which also has the approval of the Security Council and international community, if that mechanism is implemented, we will reach to ceasefire and peace.”
"Demanding a ceasefire (in light of pandemic) doesn’t look logical while putting thousands of prisoners at risk over coronavirus, creating barriers in the way of peace, and avoiding the full implementation of the agreement,” said Shaheen.
The National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib on Tuesday said five of the 15 prisoners that the Taliban insisted should be freed were involved in major “terrorist attacks,” and, based on the country’s laws, Mohib said, the government does not have the authority to release them.
One of the top 15 prisoners whose release was demanded by the Taliban, named Lailuddin, was identified by a senior government official as part of a network responsible for major attacks in Kabul, including the German embassy bombing, the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) attack, attack of former MP Mir Wali and the bombing of the funeral ceremony of Izadyar’s son.
Lailuddin, son of Gulbuddin, is originally from Musahi district of Kabul province and was arrested in Kabul city, according to the source.
Documents seen by TOLOnews show that Lailuddin was trained in Quetta, Pakistan for two-and-a-half months before deploying to Logar and then Kabul.
Each of the attacks left scores of civilians dead and wounded, at a time when Kabul was witnessing almost one attack every day.