Kabul plans to free up to 2,000 Taliban inmates as a "goodwill gesture" in response to insurgents' limited ceasefire during festival marking the end of the month of fasting.

Security forces stand guard during the first day of Eid al Fitr during a lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus in Kabul, Afghanistan. May 24, 2020.
Security forces stand guard during the first day of Eid al Fitr during a lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus in Kabul, Afghanistan. May 24, 2020. (AP)

Some 100 Taliban prisoners were released from a military prison in Afghanistan on Monday as part of the government's response to a surprise ceasefire offered by the insurgents to mark the Eid al Fitr festival.

"The government of Afghanistan has today released 100 Taliban prisoners from Bagram prison," National Security Council spokesman Javid Faisal said.

The government plans to free up to 2,000 Taliban inmates as a "goodwill gesture" in response to the Sunday's ceasefire offer, boosting efforts to launch peace talks.

"Do not carry out any offensive operations against the enemy anywhere, if any action is taken against you by the enemy, defend yourself," tweeted Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on Saturday, adding that the ceasefire was declared solely for Eid festivities.

Shaky truce 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed the announcement in a statement and said he expects the Afghan government and the Taliban leadership "not to escalate violence after Eid."

Violence had escalated since the Taliban signed a deal with Washington in February to withdraw all US forces from the country by next year.

The agreement also set the stage for intra-Afghan peace talks and stipulated that the government would first release up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners, while the insurgents would free about 1,000 national security personnel.

Last month, the Taliban rejected a government call for a ceasefire across Afghanistan for the holy month of Ramadan, saying a truce was "not rational" as they ramped up attacks on Afghan forces.

Kabul had already released about 1,000 Taliban inmates while the insurgents had freed about 300 Afghan security force captives.

The Taliban insists Kabul must release all 5,000 members as agreed in the deal with the US.

"This process should be completed in order to remove hurdles in the way of commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations," Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said on Twitter.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies