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Afghanistan to release 400 ‘hard-core’ Taliban prisoners in bid for peace

The Afghan government agreed on Sunday to release 400 “hard-core” Taliban prisoners, paving the way for peace talks aimed at ending almost two decades of war.

The Afghan government agreed on Sunday to release 400 “hard-core” Taliban prisoners, paving the way for peace talks aimed at ending almost two decades of war.

The insurgent group welcomed the move and said it was ready to begin talks within 10 days of the release.

Among the 400 are Taliban terrorists accused of major attacks against civilians and foreigners, including a 2017 truck bombing near the German embassy in Kabul that killed more than 150 people – the deadliest attack in the 19-year insurgency.

Taliban and official sources have told Reuters the group includes members of the militant Haqqani network, which has ties to the Taliban.

With the release, the Afghan government will fulfill its pledge to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners.

Talks between the government and the Taliban will start in Doha this week, Western diplomats said. Ghani appealed to the hardline Islamist group to pledge to a complete ceasefire ahead of talks.

But while the Taliban agreed to start talks within 10 days of the release, it did not commit to an immediate ceasefire.

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