Afghanistan: 400 Taliban soon released, the start of peace talks?

After three days of meeting in Kabul, the Loya Jirga, an assembly of several thousand members, decided to release 400 Taliban prisoners. Press Office of President of Afghanistan / AFP

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Historic peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban are "about" to begin, the Afghan government announced on Sunday, August 9, after the decision by a large assembly to release 400 Taliban prisoners guilty of serious crimes.


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We are on the verge of [starting] the peace negotiations  ," said Abdullah Abdullah, government official responsible for the talks. Inter-Afghan discussions should begin within a day or two after the release of the 400 prisoners,  " said ex-president Hamid Karzai.

The future of the prisoners represents a crucial stake in the opening of negotiations, the two camps having engaged in an exchange of prisoners which must precede these discussions. Today, I will sign a decree to release the remaining 400 prisoners  ," Afghan President Ashraf Ghani confirmed.

Loya jirga validates the liberation of the 400 Taliban

Kabul has already released nearly 5,000 Taliban prisoners, but Afghan authorities have so far refused to release the remaining 400 captives claimed by the insurgents. Some are indeed involved in deadly attacks killing Afghans and foreigners, including several French.

The resolution recommending the release of the prisoners was adopted after three days of discussions between thousands of Afghan dignitaries. In order to remove obstacles to the opening of peace talks, to put an end to the carnage, and for the good of the public, the jirga approves the release of the 400 prisoners requested by the Taliban,  " announced Atefa Tayeb, member of the the assembly.

An " inconceivable  " liberation 

Among the captives concerned, according to the official list, are more than 150 condemned to death, as well as a group of 44 " unwanted  " captives  , a sort of blacklist filled with profiles deemed problematic by the American and Afghan authorities, but also other countries.

This group includes the two assassins of Bettina Goislard, a French employee of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, killed on November 16, 2003 in Ghazni, 130 kilometers south of Kabul. This Saturday, in a statement, the family of Bettina Goislard judged "  inconceivable  " that the two men could be released.

Durable ceasefire

The list also contains the name of a former Afghan soldier who turned his weapon against French soldiers in 2012 in Kapisa province, killing five of them and injuring 13 others. Five of the captives also played a role in the 2018 attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, in which 40 people were killed, including 14 foreigners.

This Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on dignitaries to accomplish this “ unpopular  ” release  . The Taliban must now demonstrate that they are not afraid of a national ceasefire  ," however added the Afghan head of state on Sunday, referring to a demand from the grand assembly for a " serious truce ".  , immediate and sustainable  ”across the country.

To read also: Afghanistan: major attack against a prison in the east of the country

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