International

Afghan govt. frees ‘dangerous’ militants

Delegates attend an Afghan Loya Jirga meeting in Kabul, Afghanistan on Aug 7, 2020. File

Delegates attend an Afghan Loya Jirga meeting in Kabul, Afghanistan on Aug 7, 2020. File   | Photo Credit: AP

Afghan authorities said on Friday that they had started to release 400 Taliban prisoners, the final hurdle in long-delayed peace talks between the two warring sides, even as President Ashraf Ghani warned they were a “danger to the world”.

The Afghan government and the Taliban are set to meet within days of the prisoner release being completed, in a move that has drawn widespread condemnation after it emerged that many of the inmates were involved in attacks that killed scores of Afghans and foreigners.

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

Starting peace talks

The release of 400 militants was approved at the weekend by a gathering of thousands of prominent Afghans who said they wanted to pave the way for talks to begin in Doha, Qatar, and a possible ceasefire.

But the decision has caused heartache for the families of those killed by the insurgents. “If (the Taliban) can’t bring peace and they attack again, thousands of people will be killed and their families will be tormented,” said Bashir Naween, whose brother was killed in a 2017 truck bombing near the Germany embassy in Kabul, an attack involving one of the militants due to be released. “But if the real peace comes, we won’t have any problems because... our big dream is peace,” he said.

The prisoners include at least 44 insurgents of particular concern to the United States and other countries for their role in high-profile attacks, according to an official list.

Mr. Ghani warned on Thursday that the hardened criminals were “likely to pose a danger both to us and to (America) and to the world”.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 3:44:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/afghan-govt-frees-dangerous-militants/article32354203.ece

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