Taliban frees 20 Afghan soldiers in exchange process

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Kabul: The Taliban has released 20 Afghan security forces as part a prisoners exchange process with the government in Kabul as per the agreement the militant group inked with the US to bring peace in the war-torn country.

Taking to Twitter on Sunday, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said that the 20 soldiers were released in Kandahar province, reports Xinhua news agency.

Photos posted on Mujahid’s handle showed the soldiers wearing traditional clothes and receiving cash and certificates from the Taliban at an unknown location.

The Taliban spokesman earlier in the day said that the insurgents would hand over the 20 to International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Kandahar.

The Afghan Ministry of Defense officials have not responded to the report so far.

Earlier on Sunday, the Afghan government released 100 Taliban inmates from Bagram prison in eastern Parwan province, bringing the number of Taliban inmates freed since April 8 to 300.
On March 11, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani issued a decree to release 5,000 Taliban inmates on parole.

The exchange process is part of the peace deal inked between the Taliban and the US signed in Qatar capital Doha on February 29, of which the Afghan government was not a signatory.
The Taliban also agreed to launch direct peace talks with the government and accepted to free 1,000 Afghan government security force members.