The Taliban released 16 Afghan government prisoners in Balkh province on Tuesday, confirmed Munir Farhad, a spokesman for the provincial governor on Wednesday.
Farhad said that since the prisoners release process started, 40 government prisoners have been freed by the Taliban in the province.
“So far, in three steps more than 40 government prisoners have been released by the Taliban in Balkh,” he said, adding: “Eight Taliban prisoners were released by the government in Balkh.”
The prisoners who were released yesterday have urged the government to “take effective steps to establish lasting peace in the country.”
The prisoners were in Taliban custody from between two months to one year, said the prisoners who said they were moved between districts during their captivity.
Mohammad Noor, who is a resident of Ghulaam Jan village in Balkh district and a member of the national police said he was captured by the Taliban two months ago.
“I have worked in the national police at Katakhil checkpoints in Balkh district for more than one year and while I was on my way home, I was taken by the Taliban. I didn't have my gun,” he said.
Sayed Ahmad, a member of the army and a and resident of Zaray district, said: “I was on leave and wanted to come home and I was arrested by the Taliban on the way. I have been in Taliban custody for about six months.”
The total released by the Taliban is 861 while the government has released 4,250.
The US-Taliban deal says that up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners should be released by the Afghan government ahead of the intra-Afghan negotiations.
The process should have happened 10 days after the peace deal, according to the agreement but it still has not been completed yet.