Afghan govt suspends release of Taliban inmates

Kabul: The Afghan government has suspended the release of the last batch of Taliban inmates over their involvement in serious crimes, it was reported on Tuesday.

The Afghan government on Monday once again stated its firm stance of not releasing nearly 600 Taliban prisoners who are reportedly guilty of serious crimes beyond membership in the Taliban, Tolo news said in a report.

The government called on the group to not request specific individuals for release.

On Sunday, the Afghan government revealed that one of the main reasons behind the delay in the intra-Afghan negotiations was its refusal to release 597 prisoners out of the 5,000 inmates that were to be freed as part of the US-Taliban agreement signed in February.

These individuals are accused of serious “moral crimes,” and are on a list that was given to the government by the Taliban, said Ahmad Rashid Totakhil, who heads up the prisoner release process.

In early March, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani issued a decree to release 5,000 Taliban inmates on parole, and the Taliban agreed to release 1,000 soldiers but the exchange of prisoners was repeatedly delayed.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said: “The US has agreed with the Taliban about the release of 5,000 prisoners… We do not expect the Taliban to tell us who should be released.”

So far, more than 4,000 Taliban prisoners and over 500 Afghan security force members were released.

According to the Afghan government, the process will continue this week.