Released men will be deployed to front lines, says commander
Afghan authorities are opening prison doors for thousands of Taliban inmates in a high-risk gambit to ensure the insurgent group begin peace talks with Kabul.
Security concerns are mounting as many of the newly liberated fighters say they are ready to resume their holy war.
“If the Americans do not pull out, we will continue our jihad, because they have killed many Afghans in their operations,” said Mohamed Daud, who was freed from Bagram jail north of Kabul last month.
“We do not want foreign forces in our country anymore,” he told AFP, dressed in a traditional shalwar kameez, before taking a taxi back to his village with a cash handout from authorities worth $65.
US forces arrested Daud, 28, in the northwest province of Faryab nine years ago.
Afghan authorities accelerated the planned release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners, including Daud, as a “goodwill gesture” after the insurgents called a three-day ceasefire to mark the Eid holiday.
Those released include members training to be suicide bombers, suicide vest makers, kidnappers and even foreign fighters, a security official said.
The move is part of a larger prisoner swap agreed as a precursor to peace talks starting.
Before their release, inmates were required to sign a pledge that they would not pick up arms again. It is increasingly clear such commitments mean little.
A Taliban commander in Pakistan told AFP there should be “no ambiguity” that the released men will eventually be deployed to Afghanistan’s front lines.
“It’s an ongoing jihad, and will continue until and unless we reach some sort of agreement with the Kabul government,” he said.
Several other freed insurgents say they remain angry at US troops, but under a US-Taliban deal signed in February the insurgents committed to stop attacking American and foreign forces as they withdraw from the country by next year.