KABUL: One of the top 15 prisoners whose release is being demanded by the Taliban, Lailuddin, has been identified by a senior government official as part of a network responsible for major attacks in Kabul, including the German embassy bombing, the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) attack, an attack on former MP Mir Wali and a bombing of the funeral ceremony. Lailuddin, son of Gulbuddin, is originally from Musahi district of Kabul province and was arrested in Kabul city, according to the source. Documents seen by TOLO News show that Lailuddin was trained in Quetta, Pakistan for two-and-a-half months before deploying to Logar and then Kabul.
In May 2017, a truck bomber near the German embassy in Kabul killed over 150 people and injured over 400, mostly civilians. In an earlier attack, claimed by the Taliban in August 2016, the American University in Kabul was stormed after a car bomb was exploded. At least 17 died.
The release of the Taliban prisoners is part of the US-Taliban deal signed in Doha late on February 29. The Afghan government has so far agreed to release 1,500 Taliban prisoners, instead of the 5,000 prisoners mentioned in the agreement. The prisoner release has posed a major obstacle to the already delayed peace process. National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib on Tuesday said five of the 15 prisoners that the Taliban insisted should be freed were involved in major “terrorist attacks,” and, based on the country’s laws, Mohib said, the government does not have the authority to release them. The five prisoners were identified after investigations by the Attorney General’s Office and the National Directorate of Security, Mohib added.
A former Taliban commander, Sayed Akbar Agha, said the Taliban believes that the government is “making excuses” by not agreeing to release the five prisoners. “The Taliban does not believe that the problem is only the release of the five individuals; they say that the government is making excuses,” he added. Sources close to the Taliban say that the increase in violence around the country is related to the delays in the prisoner release. “The delay in the prisoner release has intensified the conflicts and has delayed the intra-Afghan negotiations,” said Khalil Safi, former head of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, an international crisis group.
The government has so far released 361 Taliban prisoners, but the Taliban has said they are “unidentified.” The Taliban has also released 60 prisoners, but the government says only 19 of them are members of the security forces, and the rest are civilians.
(By arrangement with Tolo News)