Taliban release 10 Afghan soldiers from captivity

KABUL, Afghanistan

At least ten Afghan soldiers, who were kept captive by the Taliban for up to six years, were released by the insurgents as a “goodwill gesture”, a government official said on Friday.

Mohammad Yaseen Khan, the governor of southern Helmand province, said the International Committee of Red Cross facilitated the release of the Afghan soldiers from the Taliban captivity.

Speaking to reporters alongside the released soldiers in the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, Khan said the Afghan government hails such positive steps.

“Efforts are also underway to ensure safe release of many civilians from Taliban’s custody,” he added.

Islam Uddin, one of the released captives, said he spent more than two harsh years under Taliban’s captivity, adding he is pleased to get his liberty back.

On Friday, Zalmay Khalilzad, Washington’s top peace negotiator for Afghanistan, hailed the release of 10 Afghan soldiers by the Taliban as a positive step towards peace in the country.

The release came days after a prisoner swap of three key Taliban commanders for two foreign professors at the American University of Afghanistan.

The U.S. President Donald Trump hailed the prison swap.

“We join families of Kevin King & Tim Weeks in celebrating their release from Taliban captivity. Thanks to President Ghani for his courageous support. Let’s hope this leads to more good things on the peace front like a ceasefire that will help end this long war. Proud of my team”, he said in a Twitter post on Thursday.
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