Taliban freed two western hostages in exchange for Haqqani prisoners

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Three Haqqani prisoners were released from Bagram prison on Monday evening in exchange of two AUAF professors.

Kevin King, 63, from the US, and Timothy Weeks, 50, from Australia, were professors at AUAF who were abducted by the Haqqani Network in Kabul in August 2016.

According to TOLOnews, the handover took place in Zabul province.

In accordance with a public statement by President Ghani last week, in which he described the prisoner swap as a gesture to restart the peace talks, the professors were freed in exchange for the release of Anas Haqqani, Hafiz Rasheed and Mali Khan, three Haqqani Network commanders who were captured outside of Afghanistan in 2014.

This comes as the three Haqqani prisoners were released from Bagram prison on Monday evening and flown to Doha, but will remain under ‘house arrest’ there, according to sources.

On Monday President Ghani spoke with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, in two separate phone calls, to “review the steps necessary to release three Haqqani prisoners” and they agreed that “a ceasefire and/or reduction of violence was necessary to begin intra-Afghan negotiations,” the Presidential Palace said in a series of tweets.