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Afghan govt releases 80 more Taliban prisoners, nearly 5,000 freed so far

Taliban prisoners walk as they are in the process of being potentially released from Pul-e-Charkhi prison, on the outskirts of Kabul on July 31, 2020. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on July 31 ordered the release of 500 Taliban prisoners as part of a new ceasefire that could lead into long-delayed peace talks. (Courtesy: AFP / Wakil Kohsar)

Kabul: The Afghan government has freed 80 of the 400 remaining high-value Taliban prisoners whose release was approved by last weeks Loya Jirga, the grand assembly of the country’s elders, the National Security Council said on Friday.

The prisoners were released on Thursday from Pul-e-Charkhi prison in Kabul, TOLO News quoted the Council as saying.

According to government data, out of the 400 prisoners in question, 156 of them have been sentenced to death, 105 of them are accused of murder, 34 of them are accused of kidnapping that led to murder, 51 of them are accused of drug smuggling, 44 of them are on the blacklist of the Afghan government and its allies, 6 of them are accused of assorted other crimes, 4 are accused of unspecified crimes.

A document seen by TOLO News shows that at least 124 Taliban prisoners who were sentenced to death by the courts are currently kept in Pul-e-Charkhi and Bagram jails.

Sources have said that some countries such as the US, France and Australia have reservations about the release of some of the prisoners, a step that was seen as a key push for the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations.

The list of 5,000 prisoners was given to the Afghan government by the Taliban to be released ahead of the intra-Afghan negotiations, which are now expected to be held in Doha.

So far, the government has released 4,680 of the prisoners on the Taliban list, and an additional 500 that were not on the Taliban list.

These last 500 were freed during Eid in response to the Taliban’s announcement of a ceasefire.