Taliban kill nine army soldiers while prisoner swap continue

Nine national security forces have been killed in an attack carried out by the Taliban in Charkh district of Logar province, on Wednesday night, April 15, according to the Ministry of Defense (MoD).

Though the ministry did not provide an exact figure about the Taliban casualties, it added that the attack was repelled and the militants had also suffered casualties in counterattack by Afghan security forces.

The Taliban, however, have not commented on the deadly attack so far.

On the other hand, the Taliban have released another 20 prisoners of the Afghan government in the eastern Laghman province as part of a prisoner swap agreed in the US-Taliban peace deal, signed on February 29.

Earlier on Sunday, April 12, the militant group released 20 prisoners of the government in the southern Kandahar province as a gesture of goodwill and confidence building measures.

This comes as the Afghan government have released 361 prisoners of the Taliban in Kabul as part of President Ghani’s release plan for 5,000 prisoners of the militant group, with 1,500 before start of intra-Afghan talks and the remaining 3,500 during the talks with the Taliban.

On the other hand, the Taliban have rejected a recent call by President Ghani to make ceasefire in order to prevent spread of the coronavirus and more bloodshed in the country. Citing the group’s spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, BBC Persian Service quoted him as saying that Ghani “wants to exploit the ceasefire for consolidating his own power under the pretext of corona.”

Progress in the peace process, particularly exchange of prisoners, have hitherto welcomed by the US Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and EU’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan Roland Kobia. “That spirit should continue & lead to quick start of intra-Afghan negotiations, well before 5,000/1,000 are freed,” Mr. Kobia said on his twitter account.