The Afghan government had no role in the exchange of three Taliban prisoners for two foreign professors, a source close to Taliban told Ariana News on Wednesday.
According to sources close to the Taliban, the prisoner swap was agreed between the Taliban and the government of the United States.
“The negotiations took place between Taliban and Americans. A number of army soldiers who are under Taliban custody in Helmand will be released in the coming days,” said Abdul Shakoor Mutmaeen, a former Taliban official.
Meanwhile, concerns rise that with the release of Taliban’s high-profile officials, violence may increase in the country.
Fazel Rahman Orya, a political analyst, said that he believes the presence of Anas Haqqani and two other Taliban officials will accelerate the U.S.-Taliban talks which in turn will open the way for the launch of intra-Afghan talks.
However, Najia Anwari, a spokesperson of the State Ministry for Peace Affairs, said the Taliban militants were released as a goodwill gesture to build confidence and pave the way for direct talks.
This comes a day after the U.S. officials confirmed the release of American Kevin King, 63, and Australian Timothy Weeks, 50. Both individuals, professors at The American University of Afghanistan (AUAF), were abducted by the Haqqani Network in Kabul in 2016.
In a statement, Taliban also confirmed the release of Anas Haqqani, Mali Khan, and Hafiz Abdul Rashid, calling it a step forward in “good-will” and “confidence-building measures” that can help the Afghan peace process.
The group further said that they have released ten Afghan soldiers in addition to the two AUAF professors.