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The 400 controversial and high-value Taliban prisoners have still not been released despite President Ashraf Ghani's signing of a decree to do so on Monday evening, sources close to the Afghan peace process said on Thursday, amid renewed hopes that the intra-Afghan talks will start soon.

According to sources close to the Afghan peace process, the US and other Western countries have reservations with at least 6 to 10 of these high-profile prisoners because of their involvement in the killing of their citizens in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, sources at the Presidential Palace have said that a recent warning by the Taliban about a possible attack by Daesh on these prisoners could be one of the reason behind the delay.

A document seen by TOLOnews shows that at least 124 Taliban prisoners who were sentenced to death by the courts are currently kept in Pul-e-Charkhi and Bagram jails.

Sources have said that some countries such as the US, France and Australia have reservations about the release of some of the prisoners.

“The delay is focused on the release of between 7 to 10 prisoners who have been involved in major crimes like plotting suicide attacks, serial murders, drug smuggling---the Taliban are insisting on their release. According to our information, millions of dollars have been paid to the Taliban to get these individuals released, and some of them are even not members of the Taliban,” said Saleh Mohammad Registani, an expert familiar with the peace talks.

“Countries like Australia, Britain and the US have officially demanded six of the Taliban members who are involved in the killing of their nationals not to be released, they have asked the Taliban to introduce other names in their place,” said Sami Yousufzai, a freelance journalist in Doha.

“I fear that they would have been released even before the Loya Jirga and now they would be in their homes,” said Sattar Hussaini, a lawmaker.

“Today, 100 of these prisoners will be released, another 300 should be released so that intra-Afghan talks are started soon to resolve the disputes,” said Faiz Mohammad Zaland who is familiar with the peace talks.

 According to government data, out of the 400 prisoners in question, 156 of them have been sentenced to death, 105 of them are accused of murder, 34 of them are accused of kidnapping that led to murder, 51 of them are accused of drug smuggling, 44 of them are on the blacklist of the Afghan government and its allies, 6 of them are accused of assorted other crimes, 4 are accused of unspecified crimes.

The list of 5,000 prisoners was given to the Afghan government by the Taliban to be released ahead of the intra-Afghan negotiations, which are now expected to be held in Doha. 

So far, the government has released 4,600 of the prisoners on the Taliban list, and an additional 500 that were not on the Taliban list. These last 500 were freed during Eid in response to the Taliban’s announcement of a ceasefire.