Ashraf Ghani

The Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday said it would conditionally release three key Taliban prisoners, saying the decision was difficult, but important.

The prisoners included the younger brother of Sirajjuddin Haqqani, the leader of the Haqqani network, and deputy head of the Taliban militants, Anas Haqqani, who would be released from Bagram prison.

Other key Taliban members being released, according to Ghani, were Abdul Rashid and Mali Khan.

Ghani said the prisoners would only be freed if the Taliban in turn release two professors from the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF), U.S. citizen Kevin King, and Australian Timothy Weeks, who were abducted by the militants in August of 2016.

“Our joint effort in tracing the two professors gave no result, and information suggests that their health and safety while being held by the kidnapping terrorists have deteriorated.’’

The AUAF said in a statement that it was encouraged by the news.

Taliban Spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, confirmed to dpa that the militants would issue a statement, but it was not clear when that would happen.

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