In a tweet posted today, July 11, Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for Taliban’s political office in Qatar, said that the militant group have released 17 Afghan security forces in the central Ghor province. This comes as both sides reject the number of released prisoners by the two sides, each reiterating on the release of the prisoners whose names are specifically provided on their favorite lists.
According to the Taliban, the group has so far released more than 900 prisoners of the government in different provinces. However, the Office of the National Security Council (ONSC) has only confirmed the release of about 500 security forces who were kept by the Taliban.
On Thursday, July 09, Jawid Faisal, the ONSC spokesperson, tweeted that the Afghan government has so far released 4,019 Taliban prisoners. “The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has released 4019 Taliban thus far, while the Taliban has released barely half of the 1,000 ANDSF hostages they agreed to release,” he noted.
Late in May, the ONSC said that the Afghan government had released more than 2,700 Taliban prisoners but it was immediately rejected by the militant group warning that only actual and true figures should be published and avoid distorting the process. “So far, a total of 2,284 prisoners of the Islamic Emirate have been released from prisons of Kabul Administration. Claim of having released more prisoners of ours than that as announced by officials of the Kabul Administration is not true,” Shaheen said in a tweet on May 31.
Officials of the Afghan government have also repeatedly accused the Taliban of releasing civilian hostage in the name of government prisoners since the beginning of the prisoners releases kicked off after the US-Taliban peace deal was signed on February 29. While calculation of the Taliban’s daily figures suggest that the group have released more than 900 prisoners of the government, the ONSC spokesperson has said that the militant group have released “barely half oof the 1,000 ANDSF hostages” so far.
Touching on the Taliban’s demand to release their favorite prisoners, Faisal noted that 592 Taliban prisoners on the Taliban’s list of 5,000 prisoners to be released have committed serious crimes such as drug trafficking, abducting citizens, sexual assault, stoning of women, assassinations, and other haq-ul-abd cases.
“However, we have given the Taliban the choice to submit to us another 592 names for consideration for release, or we might take matters in our own hands. The ball is on the Talib court,” he further asserted.
The release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for 1,000 Afghan security forces who are kept under Taliban custody is based on a US-Taliban peace agreement signed on February 29, 2020 in Doha, Qatar’s capital.