- Ghani ordered for the release 500 prisoners who are not in the release list
- The Taliban said it will not accept any substitutes.
- The Taliban announced a cease fire in Afghanistan in honor of the Eid ul Adhda holiday.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has announced that he will not be releasing the remaining 400 Taliban prisoners. Ghani said he had no mandate to release them, revealing he will convene a meeting with the traditional council of elders to discuss a way forward. The meeting with the elders would take a much longer time hence delaying the peace talks further.
The president said this while addressing the nation on Eid ul Adha celebration. The move is a major blow to the peace talks between the government and the Taliban that was almost beginning.
In his speech, Ghani ordered for the release of 500 prisoners who are not in the release list. However, the Taliban said it will not accept any substitutes. The talks follow a peace deal signed on February 29, between the United States and the Taliban that aims at fostering peace in the country.
The peace deal required the government to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners. In exchange, 1,000 soldiers and police captured by the militant group will be freed. Reports indicate that the Taliban have released all the 1,000 prisoners, the last of the prisoners was released on Thursday this week. The group had last week stated that it was ready for talks with the country’s leadership after the Eid holiday.
Earlier in the week, the Taliban announced a cease fire in Afghanistan in honor of the Eid ul Adhda holiday.
According to the group’s spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahed, military operations had been halted, but he revealed that they would defend themselves if need be.
The move was welcomed by the government and it said security forces in the country had been ordered to cease attacks, adding that they will return fire when attacked. In March, both the government and the Taliban announced a three-day cease fire following Eid al-Fitr. However, after the celebrations, there was a surge in attacks from the militant groups.
Meanwhile, 17 people were killed and dozens others wounded when a suicide bombing in a city in Logar province. Many of the victims were residents who were busy shopping for the Eid celebrations. The injured were taken to a hospital in Puli Alam. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Taliban denied involvement in the incident, adding that its cease fire was still effective.
Attacks in the region are a common occurrence. In May, eight soldiers were killed after Taliban insurgents attacked a checkpoint in Mohammad Agha district in the province.
In another attack on April 15, nine Afghan soldiers were killed by suspected Taliban fighters in an overnight attack at a checkpoint in Logaras Charkh district.
Eight soldiers were killed in the same month in a clash between the Taliban and the soldiers in Mes Aynak Copper Mine in the eastern part of the province.