Pakistan Releases More Afghan Taliban Prisoners

Posted December 31st, 2012 at 10:35 am (UTC-5)
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Pakistan has released four Afghan Taliban prisoners, including the minister of justice under Taliban rule of Afghanistan in the late 1990's.

Pakistani officials who did not want to be identified told reporters Monday that former Afghan Justice Minister Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, former Helmand province Governor Abdul Bari, and two other Afghan Taliban detainees have been freed.

Turabi is said to be in poor health. The United Nations says he was appointed as a Taliban military commander in Afghanistan in mid-2009 and was a deputy to Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar.

The spokesman for the Afghan Taliban also confirmed the release. Earlier this month, Pakistan released nine Afghan Taliban prisoners, but the insurgent group's former deputy leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, was not among them. He was captured in Pakistan in 2010.

Afghanistan has long sought access to the prisoners to aid the stalled peace process. Support from Pakistan, which backed the Taliban regime, is seen as crucial to Afghan reconciliation efforts as international forces complete their withdrawal from the war-torn country by the end of 2014.

Separately, Pakistani security officials say the bodies of nine militants were found dumped in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region on Monday.

The bodies were found off a road in the Pir Kili village of North Waziristan tribal agency. Officials said the militants were members of the Pakistani Taliban.

The discovery comes a day after 21 kidnapped tribal police officers were found dead. The police personnel were captured by militants during attacks on checkposts near the city of Peshawar last week.