Afghans slam violence as 44 killed following prisoners swap


KABUL: At least 44 fighters, with the majority of them Taliban militants, have been killed in the country over the past 24 hours since the conclusion of the three-day traditional grand assembly on Sunday that approved the release of 400 hardcore Taliban inmates, officials said Tuesday.
In the latest waves of violent incidents, six pro-government militiamen and three Taliban insurgents were killed and seven others, including two militants, injured as a clash erupted in Pachiragam district of the eastern Nangarhar province on Tuesday, provincial government spokesman Attaullah Khogiani said.
At least 23 insurgents have been killed in Muqar district of the eastern Ghazni and the neighboring Khost provinces over the past 24 hours, according to security officials.
A dozen more Taliban militants have reportedly been killed in their own bomb blasts in Kunduz, Takhar and Logar provinces since Monday.
Taliban militants have yet to make comment.
Reports of violent incidents and fighting emanating just days after the completion of prisoners exchange between the Afghan government and the Taliban group as precondition for beginning peace talks between the two sides.
The exchange of 5,000 Taliban prisoners with 1,000 Afghan troops is part of the U.S.-Taliban peace deal inked late February in Doha to facilitate the intra-Afghan dialogue, which is expected to pave the way for foreign forces to pull out from Afghanistan, ending the war in the country.
After the grand assembly’s approval on Sunday, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani signed the order for the release of the last batch of Taliban inmates to remove the last obstacle for the initiation of peace talks.
Completion of the prisoner exchange has raised the ray of hopes among Afghans towards achieving peace.
However, an Afghan political analyst Khan Mohammad Daneshjo has slammed the hardcore prisoners, saying the Taliban outfit has achieved its goal by getting back their fighters but Afghans have yet to embrace peace as the “Taliban group is a warmongering” armed outfit. “If Taliban wants peace it should observe ceasefire to pave the way for intra-Afghan talks,” a retired army brigadier Noorul Haq said.–Agencies