Afghan authorities begin releasing final 400 Taliban prisoners

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani warned yesterday that the release of Taliban prisoners was a 'danger' to the world. — Reuters pic
Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani warned yesterday that the release of Taliban prisoners was a 'danger' to the world. — Reuters pic

KABUL, Aug 14 — Afghan authorities said today they had started to release 400 Taliban prisoners, the final hurdle in launching long-delayed peace talks between the two warring sides.

A group of 80 prisoners were released yesterday, said National Security Council spokesman Javid Faisal, tweeting that it would “speed up efforts for direct talks and a lasting, nationwide ceasefire”.

Their release was approved at the weekend by a gathering of thousands of prominent Afghans called by President Ashraf Ghani after the authorities initially refused to free the militants, accused of serious crimes including brutal attacks that killed Afghans and foreigners.

Both sides have said they are ready to begin talks in Doha, Qatar, within days of the prisoners being freed.

The prisoners include some 44 insurgents of particular concern to the United States and other countries for their role in high-profile attacks.

Ghani warned yesterday that their release was a “danger” to the world.

“Until this issue, there was a consensus on the desirability of peace but not on the cost of it,” Ghani said in a videoconference organised by a US think tank.

“We have now paid the major instalment on cost and that means peace will have consequences,” he added, noting that the release of “hardened criminals” and drug dealers was “likely to pose a danger both to us and to (America) and to the world”. — AFP

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