PM Imran welcomes release of Western professors by Afghan Taliban

The Taliban insurgents released two Western hostages — Kevin King from the United States and Timothy Weeks from Australia — on Tuesday in a prisoner exchange deal with the Afghan government, two Afghan officials said.

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“This morning at around 10am two American University professors were released in Nawbahar district of Zabul province. They were flown out of Zabul by American helicopters,” a local police source said.

“The two professors are safely freed and are being taken care of now,” one of the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

The American and Australian were exchanged with three Taliban leaders, including key militant figure Anas Haqqani, added Reuters.

Three Taliban sources in the province also confirmed the release. There was, however, no immediate comment from the US embassy in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan welcomed the release. “We appreciate steps taken by all involved to make it possible. As part of the international community working to bring peace and end the suffering of the Afghan people, Pakistan has fully supported and facilitated this release […] as part of its policy of supporting initiatives for a negotiated political settlement of the Afghan conflict,” he said via Twitter.

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