ISLAMABAD: The Taliban freed an American and an Australian held hostage since 2016 on Tuesday, in alternate for three high Taliban figures who had been launched by the Kabul authorities and flown out of Afghanistan the day before today.
The hostages American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks had been launched in southern Zabul province, ending greater than three years of captivity since they had been kidnapped exterior the American College in Kabul, the place each work as lecturers.
Kings’ household issued an announcement later Tuesday saying he was now protected with US officers in Afghanistan and getting the medical care he wants forward of his return dwelling to be reunited together with his household. It was not clear if Weeks was additionally with Australian officers.
The 2 had been launched in Zabul’s Naw Bahar district, a area largely underneath Taliban management, based on a Taliban official who spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of he wasn’t licensed to speak to the media. King and Weeks had been handed over to US forces and transported from the world in a US helicopter.
“We’re so joyful to listen to that my brother has been freed and is on his means dwelling to us,” stated King’s sister, Stephanie Miller. “This has been an extended and painful ordeal for our total household, and his protected return has been our highest precedence. We admire the assist we’ve got acquired and ask for privateness as we await Kevin’s protected return.”
Their freedom got here hours after the Afghan authorities freed three Taliban prisoners and despatched them to Qatar. They included Anas Haqqani, the youthful brother of the Taliban’s deputy Sirajuddin Haqqani, who additionally leads the fearsome Haqqani community. The opposite two had been Hajji Malik Khan, an uncle of Haqqani and a Haqqani lieutenant, Hafiz Abdul Rashid.
It seems the Taliban had refused handy over the 2 professors till they acquired proof their males had reached Qatar. A Taliban assertion stated the prisoner alternate was an excellent step “for constructing belief” and one thing that “might help in peace course of.”
The American College of Afghanistan confirmed the discharge of the 2, saying that its “group shares the aid of the households of Kevin and Timothy, and we look ahead to offering all of the assist we will to Kevin and Tim and their households.”
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan additionally welcomed the professors’ freedom, saying he appreciates “steps taken by all concerned to make it potential.” Pakistan wields some affect over the Taliban and has performed a behind-the-scenes function in attempting to restart peace talks.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani every week in the past introduced the “conditional launch” of the three rating Taliban figures, saying at a press occasion broadcast reside on state tv that it was a really laborious determination he felt he needed to make within the curiosity of the Afghan folks.
Kings household gave a particular point out to Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Nationwide Safety Adviser Robert O’Brien for their “behind the scenes” efforts to get Ghani on board with the prisoner swap. Pompeo and O’Brien made separate calls to Ghani on Monday.
In 2017, a number of months after their abduction, the Taliban launched two movies exhibiting the captives. A January 2017 video confirmed them showing pale and gaunt. Within the later video, King and Weeks appeared more healthy and stated a deadline for their launch was set for June 16 that yr.
Each stated they’re being handled properly by the Taliban however that they continue to be prisoners and appealed to their governments to assist set them free. It was unattainable to know whether or not they had been pressured to talk.
Subsequently, US officers stated that American forces had launched a rescue mission to free the 2, however the captives weren’t discovered on the raided location.
The prisoner alternate was supposed to attempt to restart talks to finish Afghanistan’s 18-year conflict and permit for the eventual withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
America had been near an settlement in September with the Taliban however a contemporary wave of violence within the Afghan capital that killed a US soldier introduced talks and an impending deal to a grinding halt.
The settlement referred to as for direct talks between the Taliban and Afghan authorities in addition to different outstanding Afghans to discover a negotiated finish to the conflict and set out a roadmap for what a submit -war Afghanistan would seem like.
Ghani in his discussions with Pompeo and O’Brien stated he wished a discount in violence and an all-out stop-fireplace, his spokesman stated.
In keeping with a US State Division assertion Tuesday, Pompeo advised Ghani america was “dedicated to work intently collectively to deal with violence if the President’s determination doesn’t produce the supposed outcomes.”
Southern Zabul province, the place the 2 professors had been freed, is closely managed by the Taliban and huge elements of it have lengthy been a no-go space for the federal government.
However based on the Taliban, an unofficial stop-fireplace is now being noticed in three districts of the province Shahjoy, Shahmatzo and Naw Bahar probably to facilitate the discharge of the 2 hostages.


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