Taliban Releases American, Australian in Prisoner Swap

Taliban Releases American, Australian in Prisoner Swap

Taliban Releases American, Australian in Prisoner Swap

Three ranking Taliban prisoners have been released by the Afghan government and flown to Qatar for an expected swap for two Western hostages held by the militant group, Taliban sources say. "They were flown out of Zabul by American helicopters", a local police source told privately source.

Mr Weeks' father Mervyn was notified of his release in a phone call from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The White House also welcomed the release of King and Weeks.

"Tim's family has asked for privacy".

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison also expressed his gratitude to the U.S. and Afghan governments for assisting in the release.

A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Kabul declined to comment.

A separate attack by the Taliban on the American University in 2016 killed at least seven students and six guards.

The American University of Afghanistan said in a statement that it "shares the relief of the families of Kevin and Timothy, and we look forward to providing all the support we can" to the two men and their families.

King and Weeks, the 2 captives held by the Taliban have been kidnapped in 2016 outdoors the American College in Kabul wherever they the 2 get the job carried out as teachers.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks to journalists.

The Taliban released two videos of the hostages in 2017, including one that showed the captives looking sickly, though they appeared healthier in the later video, the AP reports.

President Ghani said that the pair had been "deteriorating while in the custody of the terrorists".

Sources privy of the development have confirmed to media outlets that the Afghan government released the three senior Haqqani network leaders late on Monday night. Some Western intelligence analysts believe King and Weeks were abducted, along with several other victims, in a fit of rage after the Afghan government sentenced Anas Haqqani to death. They are seen here in video stills released by the Taliban in June 2017.

Ghani said the Taliban figures that were being released are Anas Haqqani, Haji Mali Khan and Hafiz Rashid.

Over the past year Washington and the Taliban have been holding direct talks, seeking an agreement that many hoped would pave the way for United States troops to begin leaving Afghanistan and for the militants to start negotiations with Kabul. Those negotiations were stopped by President Trump after a vehicle bomb attack killed an American soldier.

But US President Donald Trump halted the talks last month, despite his hopes to end America's longest war, following the death of a USA soldier and 11 other people in a Taliban bomb attack in Kabul.

The prisoner swap could indicate a breakthrough of sorts. Their father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, was a USA ally during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

But according to the Taliban, an unofficial cease-fire is now being observed in three districts of the province - Shahjoy, Shahmatzo and Naw Bahar - possibly to facilitate the release of the two hostages.

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