18:53 GMT17 January 2021
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    KABUL (Sputnik) - Some 900 Taliban* prisoners were released across Afghanistan on Tuesday as part of the pledge made by President Ashraf Ghani to mark Eid, the holiday ending the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, the Afghan National Security Council's head of program on prisoners exchange said in a statement.

    "Today, around 900 Taliban* prisoners are being released across Afghanistan in accordance with the president's decree to bring lasting peace. Exact figures will be released later in the evening", Intizar Khadim's statement read. The official went on to calling it a "historic day" for Afghanistan.

    According to the National Security Council's spokesman Javid Faisal, as cited in a report by the TOLO news agency, the released prisoners were mainly from the Pul-e-Charkhi prison in Kabul and the Bagram prison in the central Afghan province of Parwan.

    "The number will reach 2,000, but what remains is related to the Taliban," Faisal said, adding that "the continuance of violence by the Taliban will not help the peace process".

    Earlier in the day, the Afghan government confirmed readiness to extend the ceasefire beyond the three Eid days and called upon the Taliban* to do the same in a bid to facilitate the exchange of prisoners per earlier commitments.

    On 23 May, the Taliban* announced they would cease fire for three days during Eid beginning the next day. The Afghan government concurred, with Ghani pledging to release 2,000 Taliban* prisoners on this occasion.

    The exchange of prisoners, ceasefire, and launch of intra-Afghan talks — as components of a peace deal negotiated with the mediation of the United States earlier this year — are expected to pave the way for ending the almost two-decade-long confrontation between Kabul and the Taliban*.

    *Taliban is a terrorist group banned in Russia.

    prisoners, Taliban, Afghanistan
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