The Afghan government on Thursday released 80 of the 400 high-value Taliban prisoners whose release was approved by last week’s Loya Jirga, the National Security Council said on Friday.
The consultative Loya Jirga, the grand assembly of Afghan elders, last week approved the release of the 400 Taliban prisoners, a step that was seen as a key push for the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations.
The prisoners were released from Pul-e-Charkhi prison in Kabul, according to the National Security Council (NSC).
According to government data, out of the 400 prisoners in question, 156 of them have been sentenced to death, 105 of them are accused of murder, 34 of them are accused of kidnapping that led to murder, 51 of them are accused of drug smuggling, 44 of them are on the blacklist of the Afghan government and its allies, 6 of them are accused of assorted other crimes, 4 are accused of unspecified crimes.
A document seen by TOLOnews shows that at least 124 Taliban prisoners who were sentenced to death by the courts are currently kept in Pul-e-Charkhi and Bagram jails.
Sources have said that some countries such as the US, France and Australia have reservations about the release of some of the prisoners.
The list of 5,000 prisoners was given to the Afghan government by the Taliban to be released ahead of the intra-Afghan negotiations, which are now expected to be held in Doha.
So far, the government has released 4,680 of the prisoners on the Taliban list, and an additional 500 that were not on the Taliban list. These last 500 were freed during Eid in response to the Taliban’s announcement of a ceasefire.
Three of the prisoners in video statements released by the National Security Council said they want peace in the country.
“I am a Taliban member. I was imprisoned on charges of kidnapping and murder… I hope peace comes to Afghanistan,” says Mohammad Anwar, a freed Taliban prisoner, in a video posted by NSC.
“I was imprisoned on charges of kidnapping. I have spent eight years in prison. I call on my leaders and the government leaders to agree to a permanent ceasefire,” says Baz Mohammad, a freed Taliban prisoner, in a video posted by NSC.
“I was imprisoned on charges of murder. I want a permanent ceasefire and peace in Afghanistan,” says Mohammad Sharif, a freed Taliban prisoner, in a video posted by NSC.