Kabul, Apr 30 (efe-epa).- The Taliban on Wednesday released another 52 government prisoners and announced they had sped up the process as part of efforts to “save their lives” from the threat of coronavirus.
Covid-19 has so far infected 2,171 in Afghanistan and killed 64.
“We have been trying to speed up the prisoner release process to free inmates from our jails because of the coronavirus threat to their lives” Suhail Shaheen, Taliban political spokesman in Qatar, told Efe.
The Taliban have released 112 prisoners in the past month.
Shaheen said the group was trying to release all prisoners from their jails, not only the 1,000 agreed in the US-Taliban agreement signed in Doha on 29 February.
The spokesman said the acceleration of the prisoner release process had not been coordinated or shared with the Afghan government.
“If the other side (government) acts as per the provisions of the Doha agreement, and coordinates it with us, then we are ready to release all prisoners within a week, it mean we will release all prisoners in a week,” he said.
According to the US-Taliban agreement, 5,000 Taliban prisoners were expected to be swapped for 1,000 government prisoners before 10 March, a process which was planned to pave the way for intra-Afghan talks.
But they have so far failed to agree on a practical mechanism for the process and instead of an official exchange both sides earlier this month began a unilateral process of releasing each other’s prisoners.
The government has so far handed over 550 Taliban prisoners.
The process took on a sense of urgency after officials this week alerted dozens of coronavirus cases inside two of the country’s largest prisons.
Taliban on Wednesday said they would seek revenge if any of their members died from Covid-19 in jail.EFE