Afghan president frees 75 prisoners loyal to former warlord

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—Photo by AFP


KABUL, Afghanistan: The Afghan president has pardoned 75 prisoners loyal to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former warlord and U.S.-declared terrorist who signed a peace agreement with Kabul in 2016.

The deal gave Hekmatyar and his followers immunity for past actions and granted them full political rights. The warlord was the first insurgent leader to lay down weapons. Last year, the United Nations removed his name from its sanctions’ list.

Shah Mir Amirpoor, press officer at the Pul-e-Charkhi prison east of Kabul, says the 75 were released on Thursday in line with President Ashraf Ghani’s decree.

However, Nadir Afghan, spokesman for Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e-Islami party, says over 2,200 party members remain in jail in Afghanistan.

Kabul hoped the deal with Hekmatyar would encourage other insurgent groups to follow suit but they have resisted peace overtures.—AP