Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Afghanistan: Hundreds of Taliban Prisoners Freed By Afghan Government

A rare ceasefire between the Taliban and Afghan government appeared to hold for the third and final day on Sunday, with hundreds of militant prisoners released in a bid to bring peace talks closer.

Calm prevailed across much of Afghanistan, with officials not reporting any major clashes between the two foes since the truce began on Friday to mark the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.

President Ashraf Ghani and the Taliban have both indicated that long-delayed negotiations could begin straight after Eid.

“This Eid feels different, parks are full with people… you almost forget that there has been a war in this country for 40 years,” said Shahpoor Shadab, a resident from the eastern city of Jalalabad.

In restive Zabul province, several residents recited poems calling for the ceasefire — only the third official halt in fighting in nearly two decades of conflict — to be made permanent.

“Peace is everybody’s need and aspiration,” said Sardar Wali, who took part in the poetry session.

“This is a great opportunity to extend the ceasefire today and start intra-Afghan talks tomorrow.”

Under a deal signed by the Taliban and the US in February, the “intra-Afghan” talks were slated to start in March, but were delayed amid political infighting in Kabul and as a contentious prisoner swap dragged on.

The deal stipulated that Kabul would free around 5,000 Taliban prisoners in return for 1,000 Afghan security personnel held captive by the Taliban.

The National Security Council said Sunday that a further 300 Taliban prisoners had been released since Friday, taking the total number of insurgents freed so far to just over 4,900.

Authorities, however, have refused to free hundreds of inmates accused of serious crimes that the insurgents had requested for release.

The Taliban said they have already fulfilled their side of the exchange. Deadly violence has rocked Afghanistan since the US-Taliban deal was agreed, with more than 3,500 Afghan troops killed in attacks by the insurgents, according to Ghani.

Featured

Hours Before Republic Day, India’s DRDO Conducts Maiden Test Of New Akash Missile

Hours before the Republic Day celebrations, India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully conducted the maiden test launch of the Akash next-generation...

Chinese Journalist Calls Latest India-China Border Clash As ‘Fake News’; Indian Media Says PLA, Indian Troops Suffered Injuries

A senior Chinese journalist has rejected Indian media reports about a fresh clash between Indian Army and PLA troops at a border point in...

Did Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei Threaten To ‘Take-Out’ Donald Trump Over Qasem Soleimani’s Assassination?

A Twitter account linked to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was on Friday banned by the microblogging site for posting an image, in...

Russia To Supply Pantsir-S1 Air Defense System To Myanmar Amid Warming Ties With India, Japan

As India and Japan are getting closer to Myanmar militarily to counter China, the Southeast Asian nation has not forgotten its old ally Russia....

​China’s Growing Global Stature As Weapons Producer Threatens Russia’s Export Revenues

China overtook Russia to become the world's No. 2 arms producer between 2015 and 2019, according to data released by the Stockholm International Peace...