‘Not freeing 600 Taliban rebels with heavy crimes’

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KABUL: The government will not release the remaining 600 Taliban inmates imprisoned for serious criminal offenses, says the National Security Council (NSC).
Speaking to Afghan Peace Watch (APW), NSC’s Spokesman Javid Faisal said that mentioned inmates were convicted of serious crimes, including murders, rapes, robberies and drug-trafficking. 
The 600 prisoners being held are part of the 5,000 Taliban insurgents agreed to be freed under the US-Taliban peace agreement signed in last February. 
The government has so far released 4,019 Taliban militants in a bid to end the war peacefully and pave the ground for the intra-Afghan dialogue.  
The Afghan government has called on the armed opposition to introduce new names instead of the 600 inmates, who will not be released. 
The United States and the Taliban signed a peace agreement in Doha on February 29, 2020, that included prisoner releases on both sides in order to facilitate direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Based on the agreement, the Afghan government which wasn’t a signatory to the agreement was expected to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for 1,000 government prisoners in the Taliban’s custody. 
A Taliban spokesman based in Qatar, Sohail Shahin, said that the militant group had so far released 708 prisoners. 
However, Faisal dismissed the figures as ‘inaccurate’, adding that most of those released by the Taliban were civilians. “There are more than a few hundred that are civilians who have been abducted after the Doha deal,” Faisal told APW
The Afghan government and the Taliban have recently agreed to hold direct talks in Qatar, a development that is considered a breakthrough to end the decade-long Afghan war.