In major breakthrough, Afghan Loya Jirga approves release of 400 Taliban prisoners

Kabul: The Loya Jirga of Afghanistan on Sunday approved the release of 400 Taliban prisoners in a major breakthrough that will pave the way for intra-Afghan talks.

According to Tolo News, a resolution with 25 articles was issued in which the members of the Loya Jirga or grand assembly urged the international community to cease direct and indirect intervention in Afghanistan's affairs and to cease their support for terrorist groups.

President Ashraf Ghani, former president Hamid Karzai and other political figures have called on the Taliban for an immediate start to the intra-Afghan talks.

President Ghani at the closing day of the Peace Jirga said that he will sign the decree to free the remaining 400 Taliban prisoners today.

The statement also said that the people and the government of Afghanistan must be assured that the released Taliban prisoners "will not return to war and their activity will be monitored." The Loya Jirga, comprising thousands of Afghan elders, community leaders, and politicians gathered in Afghanistan's capital to decide whether to release a final 400 Taliban prisoners.

The Afghan government has said that they have released over 4,600 Taliban prisoners, 400 less than the number decided during the US-Taliban deal. The government is hesitating to release the remaining prisoners due to their serious crime.

The release of prisoners was being considered as the last hurdle into opening peace talks between the internationally-backed government and the Taliban under a peace deal between the terrorists and the United States.

According to government data, of the 400 prisoners in question, 156 of them have been sentenced to death, 105 of them are accused of murder, 34 of them are accused of kidnapping that led to murder, 51 of them are accused of drug smuggling, 44 of them are on the blacklist of the Afghan government and its allies, six of them are accused of other crimes, four are unknown.

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