The Afghan government has suspended the release of the last batch of Taliban inmates over their involvement in serious crimes, local media 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 TV said.
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.The exchange of prisoners is part of a peace deal inked between the Taliban and the United States in Qatar in February. However, the Afghan government was not a signatory of the deal.
So far, more than 4,000 Taliban prisoners and over 500 Afghan security force members were released.Tolo News added that the government called on the Taliban group “not to request specific individuals for release,” when Taliban repeatedly said they have handed over a specific list of their comrades to U.S. officials during the peace talks.
“The United States 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,” presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi was quoted as saying.
The disputes over release and exchange of prisoners between the Afghan government and the Taliban remained the main hurdle ahead of the intra-Afghan peace talks.