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Taliban frees new batch of 38 inmates

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KABUL: A new batch of 38 Afghan prisoners in Taliban’s captivity have been released by the militants in western Farah and Nimroz provinces, the Taliban said Saturday.

The inmates who have been released were members of Afghanistan defense and security forces, said Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban.

With the new batch of 38 Afghan prisoners, a total of government prisoners have been freed by the militants since the outset of Kabul-Taliban prisoner exchange.

The United States and the Taliban signed a peace agreement on February 29th in Qatar, which set the motion for a prisoner exchange between Kabul and militants. The Afghan government is bound, according to the accord, to set free 5,000 prisoners in return for 1,000 of its security forces in Taliban’s captivity.

This is as the U.S. carried out two airstrikes against Taliban in two parts of the country on Thursday. In a tweet, spokesman for U.S. Forces for Afghanistan Sonny Leggett on Friday said the U.S. forces pummeled two Taliban strongholds to disrupt coordination between the militants.

The raids were the first US airstrikes against Taliban since the start of the Eid ceasefire and were provoked by a Taliban attack on several Afghan security checkpoints.

“Overnight, US forces conducted an airstrike against 25 armed Taliban fighters executing a coordinated attack on a security checkpoint in Farah province,” said Col. Leggett. In another raid, US forces conducted a strike on Taliban fighters attacking an Afghan forces checkpoint in Kandahar province, he said.

He also urged the U.S. military official urged all sides in the Afghan war to reduce violence “to allow the peace process to take hold”.

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