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Kabul Frees Third Group of Taliban Prisoners in Latest Confidence-Building Step

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KABUL (Sputnik) - The Afghan government on Sunday released a third group of Taliban prisoners hours after the Taliban announced the handover of 20 Afghan government prisoners, Kabul’s National Security Council said.

The office of the National Security Council that under a decree from President Ashraf Ghani, the group of the Taliban were rounded up and handed over “according to their age, health and incarceration.”

This is the third batch of prisoners released by Kabul in ongoing confidence-building measures aimed at jumpstarting the intra-Afghan peace negotiations.

The negotiations were set to begin 10 March after the US and Taliban signed a peace agreement earlier in February.

Kabul, however, took issue with the agreement’s stipulation that 5,000 Taliban prisoners would be released, which unleashed a cross-country wave of Taliban violence and suspended the talks.

Three Taliban Militants Killed, Five Injured in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province

Three Taliban militants have been killed, and five more have suffered injuries in a preemptive strike by the Afghan armed forces in Helmand province, the country’s military announced in a statement on Sunday.

According to the 215th Maiwand Corps, the military received notice that Taliban militants were planning an attack on security posts near the town of Gereskh. The army launched an assault, resulting in the deaths of three militants.

Afghanistan's Taliban delegation arrive for the agreement signing between Taliban and U.S. officials in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. - Sputnik International
Taliban Rejects ‘Fruitless’ Discussions After Kabul Walks Back Prisoner Release Promises
Five other militants suffered injuries and one member of the Taliban who tried to flee during the attack was later captured by the Afghan military, according to the statement.

Troops also deactivated 15 mines in the region, the military said.

Violent clashes in Afghanistan continue despite the signing of a peace deal between the Taliban and the US on February 29 that called for a reduction in violence in the country.

The agreement was set to pave the way for the beginning of intra-Afghan talks between the militant group and the government, following the mutual release of prisoners, although negotiations have yet to start.

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