KABUL -- Appeals for the Taliban to extend a ceasefire with Afghan forces went unanswered on Wednesday (May 27), but there were no reports of major violence and the militants said they would release some government prisoners.
A three-day pause in fighting that ended on Tuesday (May 26) provided a rare respite, and Afghan authorities called on the Taliban to extend the ceasefire so delayed peace talks could begin.
"If the Taliban are ready to extend the ceasefire, we are ready to continue the ceasefire too," National Security Council spokesman Javid Faisal said May 26.
The future of talks with the insurgents "depends on the Taliban's next move", he added.
The group has not yet responded, but by early afternoon May 27 no major security incidents had been reported.
The historic pause in fighting -- only the second in almost 19 years of conflict -- saw Afghan authorities release about 1,000 Taliban inmates, most from Bagram prison in Parwan Province.
The release is part of a pledge by the government to free up to 2,000 insurgents in response to the Taliban's ceasefire offer.
On May 27, a senior member of the Taliban told AFP that in return the insurgents were planning to free about 50 to 100 Afghan security force members as early as Thursday (May 28).
The release of prisoners by both sides is part of a US-Taliban deal agreed to in February.
The deal stipulates the Afghan government would release up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners and the militants would free about 1,000 security personnel.
Kabul had already freed about 1,000 Taliban inmates before the ceasefire, while the insurgents had released about 300 government captives.
Abdul Wasi, 27, from Kandahar Province, much of which is under Taliban control, said he was a "holy warrior" when he was detained eight years ago.
"I was told ... to do jihad until all foreign troops are driven out of our country," Wasi, sporting a long beard and wearing a traditional baggy shirt-and-trouser shalwar kameez, told AFP moments after he was freed.
He said he was happy about the US-Taliban deal paving the way for all foreign forces to quit Afghanistan by May next yea, and that he wanted a permanent ceasefire.
"If the foreign troops exit, we won't fight," he said as he boarded a Kabul-bound bus along with other freed Taliban members.
The prisoners had signed written pledges not to return to the battlefield, but Qari Mohammadullah, another freed inmate, vowed to continue fighting if foreign forces remain in Afghanistan.
"We don't want foreigners to stay any longer in our country; they must leave immediately," Mohammadullah said. "We will continue our 'jihad' until every single foreign force leaves."
Each freed inmate received 5,000 AFN ($65).