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Pakistan frees seven Taliban prisoners to aid Afghan peace efforts

Sept. 7, 2013 at 1:44 PM

ISLAMABAD, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- Pakistan says it freed seven Taliban prisoners Saturday in an effort to help the peace process in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani foreign ministry said at least one former senior member of the militant group was among those released, the BBC reported.

Mansoor Dadullah, Said Wali, Abdul Manan, Karim Agha, Sher Afzal, Gul Muhammad and Muhammad Zai wre released, the ministry said in a statement.

Dadullah, who was the Taliban's military commander in four provinces of southern Afghanistan, was captured in February 2008 in a shootout with Pakistani security forces.

The militants were released in Pakistan, rather than being turned over to the custody of the Afghans, as Kabul wanted, a Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman said.

Pakistan has freed 26 Taliban detainees in the past year, the statement said.

The release came shortly after a visit by Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai that focused on possible Pakistani assistance in the Afghan peace process, Khaama Press reported.

Zalmai Rassoul, the Afghan foreign affairs minister, has said economic and security issues threatening Pakistan's stability could not be resolved until Pakistan supported anti-terrorism efforts.

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