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88 Taliban prisoners

France has asked the Afghan government not to include Taliban fighters convicted of killing French citizens in a prisoner release deal, the France Foreign Ministry said on Saturday, Reuters reported.

The Afghan government has agreed to release 400 “hard-core” prisoners as a move toward peace talks with the Taliban, and an official said on Friday that 80 of these convicts had been freed so far.

“France is particularly concerned by the presence, among the individuals liable to be released, of several terrorists convicted of killing French citizens in Afghanistan,” the statement said.

 “It firmly opposes the liberation of individuals convicted of crimes against French nationals, in particular soldiers and humanitarian workers,” it said.

“As a result, we have immediately asked the Afghan authorities not to proceed with the release of these terrorists,” it added.

In a recent opinion essay for the Washington Post, Ghani said that the Afghan people have paid a heavy price for peace and that the Taliban must accept the current Afghanistan.

Ghani wrote that the release of 400 Taliban prisoners was the most dangerous decision that the Afghan people have taken for peace.

This comes after the Afghan government on Thursday released 80 of the 400 high-value Taliban prisoners whose release was approved by last week’s Loya Jirga.

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, six of them are accused of assorted other crimes, four 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 4,680 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.