The Afghan government released 55 Taliban prisoners yesterday, Wednesday, April 22, Afghanistan’s Office of the National Security Council (ONSC) confirmed today, Thursday, April 23. They were released in Logar, Paktia, Badakhshan, Jowzjan, Khost, Paktika, Ghazni, Baghlan, and Maidan Wardak provinces, said spokesperson for the ONSC, Javid Faisal.
The Taliban prisoners were released as part of government “efforts to advance peace and fight against Covid-19,” Mr. Faisal said.
A prisoner swap between the Afghan government and the Taliban is part of the US-Taliban peace deal, which was signed on February 29, in Doha, Qatar.
So far, the government has released 487 Taliban prisoners. In return, the Taliban have freed some 60 pro-government prisoners.
The prisoner swap is one of the many controversial issues between the Afghan government and the Taliban militants. The Taliban have repeatedly accused the government of delaying the prisoners release but the government authorities reject Taliban’s claim, saying that the group demand immediate release of top Taliban commanders who have been behind deadly bombings in Kabul.
The latest release of Taliban prisoners comes a day after the militants killed dozens of security forces in multiple attacks throughout the country. Around 53 Afghan soldiers lost their lives over past two weeks.
The Taliban have ramped up their military campaigns in the past two weeks.