Ceasefire: Afghanistan to free up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners
May. 25, 2020
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani began a process Sunday to release up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners as a goodwill gesture after the insurgents proposed a surprise ceasefire during the Eid holiday.
Asia The prisoner swap is seen as a confidence-building move ahead of long-awaited peace talks between the government and Taliban
The ceasefire appeared to hold as there were no reports of fighting between the insurgents and Afghan forces by the end of the first day on Sunday. Ghani also said the government was ready to hold peace talks with the Taliban after accepting their offer of a three-day truce over the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan. The decision to release the prisoners was a "goodwill gesture" and was taken "to ensure success of the peace process", Ghani's spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said on Twitter.
Freed Taliban must not fight
Khalilzad has maintained that the insurgents have kept up their end of the bargain by not attacking the US-led coalition forces -- even if recent violence violated the spirit of the accord. His remarks came after an attack against a maternity hospital in Kabul killed dozens -- including mothers and infants -- and a suicide bombing at a funeral. The Taliban denied involvement in the attacks, but Ghani blamed them and the Islamic State group for the violence. War-weary Kabul residents expressed relief after the truce was announced. Since the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 there has only been one other ceasefire -- a three-day pause between the Taliban and Kabul, also marking the end of Eid, in 2018. That ceasefire was initiated by Ghani.
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