Taliban frees US and Australian hostages in prisoner swap

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South Africa Headlines News

The Taliban released two Western hostages in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, handing them over to US forces more than three years after they were abducted in Kabul, insurgent sources and police told AFP.

The release of American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks, both professors at the American University in Kabul, comes one week after President Ashraf Ghani announced that Afghanistan would free three high-ranking Taliban prisoners in an apparent swap that he hoped would help jumpstart peace talks.

Three Taliban sources in the province also said the hostages had been released. “We released the professors and are now expecting the Kabul government and Americans to release our three prisoners as soon as possible,” one of them told AFP. Ghani had first announced the exchange on November 12, saying the Taliban prisoners held at Bagram prison would be “conditionally” released. They include Anas Haqqani, who was seized in 2014 and whose older brother is the deputy Taliban leader and head of the Haqqani network, a notorious Taliban affiliate.

The other two Taliban prisoners to be released are Haji Mali Khan, believed to be the uncle of Sirajuddin Haqqani, and Abdul Rashid, said to be the brother of Mohammad Nabi Omari, a member of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar.

 

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