Afghanistan wants truce extension as it begins freeing 900 Taliban prisoners

WION Web Team New Delhi May 27, 2020, 08.47 AM(IST)

File photo Photograph:( Reuters )

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"For better management of the prisoner issue, it is important to extend the ceasefire," Javid Faisal, a spokesman for Afghanistan's national security adviser, told a news conference.

The Afghan government said it was in the process of freeing 900 Taliban members from prison on Tuesday even as it urged the insurgent group to extend a three-day ceasefire set to end at midnight, according to news agency Reuters.

This is the biggest such release yet as part of a prisoner swap under a deal struck by the Taliban and the United States in Qatar in February.

"For better management of the prisoner issue, it is important to extend the ceasefire," Javid Faisal, a spokesman for Afghanistan's national security adviser, told a news conference.

The Taliban had announced a three-day ceasefire for the Eid al-Fitr holiday that ends the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, a move that was welcomed by both the Afghan and US governments.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen, in a statement on Twitter, welcomed the release of 900 prisoners as "good progress" and said the group would in turn free a "remarkable number" of prisoners soon.

However, he said nothing about extending the ceasefire, which was to expire at midnight (1930 GMT) Tuesday.

Last month, the Taliban rejected a call by the Afghan government for a Ramadan ceasefire.

Fighting between Taliban and Afghan forces had intensified before the ceasefire, and the government said it would resume an offensive against the militant group in the wake of its deadly attacks nationwide earlier this month.

(With inputs from Reuters)