The Taliban has released Kevin King and Timothy Weeks three years after kidnapping them from outside the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul where they were working as professors. The academics were swapped for three Taliban prisoners. Two hostages, Kevin King and Timothy Weeks from the United States and Australia respectively have been released by the Taliban.
The professors were handed over to the US army. Both professors were released in Nawbahar districts of Zabul province. The Taliban had in return had asked to set free three high ranking Taliban prisoners which the Afghanistan government accepted calling it a step towards peace.
Ashraf Ghani, the president of Afghanistan said that it was a tough decision. He added that this was important for peace in the region as well as a gesture of humanity. The Afghan government which has been in a bitter war with the Taliban hopes that this step could bring back dialogue between both the parties and talks might resume.
In 2016, the two professors who taught English at the American University of Afghanistan were abducted by armed men from outside the university. The abductors had taken them in a van. The professors who hailed from Pennsylvania, United States and Wagga Wagga, Australia were seen in a video in 2017. The pair, in the video, appealed the president of the United States Donald Trump to help them by accepting the demands of the Taliban. The US forces had launched a rescue mission for the professors but could not trace them.
The Taliban prisoners swapped were Anas Haqqani and two other commanders. Anas Haqqani is said to be a character who has worked as a fundraiser for the Haqqani militant group. He is the brother of Sirajuddin who is believed to hold number two position in the Taliban leadership. He also leads the network of Taliban fighters. It is the same Haqqani network that has carried out several attacks in Afghanistan. In 2017, the network was accused of a truck bomb attack in Kabul that left more than 150 killed. They have also been targeting Aghan and Nato forces in the country. In a statement, the Taliban said that this was “a step forward in good-will” and that confidence-building measures” like these could take the peace process forward.