The exchange of three senior Taliban prisoners for two foreign hostages announced by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has been delayed, a spokesman said Saturday.
The Taliban prisoners “are still being held by the Afghan government. The inability of the Taliban to meet the conditions has caused a delay in the exchange,” Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi wrote on Twitter.
The government “will review the exchange process in light of Afghanistan’s national interests,” he said, without providing further details.
Ghani announced the exchange on Tuesday, saying the Taliban prisoners held at Bagram prison would be “conditionally” released.
They include Anas Haqqani, who was seized in 2014 and whose older brother is the deputy Taliban leader and head of the Haqqani network, a notorious Taliban affiliate.
The two foreign hostages — American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks — were kidnapped by gunmen wearing military uniforms in Kabul in August 2016.
Ghani said that “their health has been deteriorating while in the custody of the terrorists”.
He added that the release of the two men, both professors, would “pave the way” for the start of unofficial direct talks between his government and the Taliban, who long have refused to negotiate with Ghani’s administration.
Several people have been taken hostage and a policeman killed in an attack by Boko Haram militants in a troubled region of southeastern Niger, a senior official told AFP on Wednesday.
The jihadists, some of them believed to be wearing suicide vests, launched the assault on various parts of the city of Diffa on Tuesday night and it was “still in progress” Wednesday morning, the official said.
Residents described hearing gunshots and loud explosions near the police station.
Two jihadists have been killed, according to provisional figures.
“The attackers, hunted by the security forces, have holed up in the home of a policeman and taken several people hostage,” the official said, who wanted to remain anonymous.
One Diffa resident told AFP the police are “still trying to dislodge them.”
Diffa is close to northeastern Nigeria and borders the Lake Chad basin. It has suffered repeat attacks from Boko Haram.
An estimated 27,000 people have been killed and two million displaced since Boko Haram launched its insurgency in northeastern Nigeria in 2009, a campaign that has spilled over to Niger, as well as Burkina Faso and Chad.
Across Niger, 88 civilians were killed by Boko Haram in March alone, and more than 18,000 people forced to flee their villages, according to the United Nations.
The UN has said it is alarmed by the “rapid deterioration of the security situation” in the Diffa region.
The Bauchi State police command says 49 hostages including the district head of Tama In Toro Local Government Area of the state, have been rescued from the den of kidnappers during an operation by the security agents.
During a press briefing on the activities of the command in fighting crime in the state, the Bauchi State Police Commissioner, Haliru Gwandu, also confirmed that over 50 suspects including the kidnappers of the monarch had been arrested and charged while others are being investigated.
Part of the arrested suspects are armed robbery gangs, cattle rustlers, impersonators and rapists.
Arrested were made by the command through synergy with other security agencies in the state.
Briefing reporters on the command’s efforts in the war against crime, the Police Commissioner said the efforts had been yielding positive results, leading to recovery of arms, ammunition, stolen vehicles and rustled cattle as well as arrest of some suspects.
The suspects were being paraded alongside the various exhibits recovered which include fabricated master keys; police warrant card, complete set of police uniform, boot, handsets firearms and ammunition.
The command also held an interactive session on safety and security in the state with traditional rulers, caretaker committee chairmen of local government councils, and representatives of vigilante groups including clerics and youth leaders.
Community leaders were also at the meeting where modalities for collaboration in fighting crime between the people and security agencies were discussed.
Sixty-seven persons held hostage by suspected Boko Haram militants in Yobe State, northeast Nigeria, have been freed by the Nigerian Army.
The rescued persons were taken to Kukareta village in the state and they are in the custody of the village head.
One of the rescued captives, Aisha that narrated her ordeal, said they were held in the captivity of the suspected sect members for six months.
The village head of Kukareta, Mallam Lawan Babagana, told reporters that the IDPs were now getting humanitarian support from both the state and the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) pending the time they would be cleared by the appropriate authorities to return home.
“They brought them in the afternoon between 4:00pm and 5:00pm local time on Thursday.
“They are here with us and we take care of them.
“I have already spoken to the director of the SEMA and they brought food stuffs – rice, mattresses cooking oil and others.
“The local government chairman also brought other food stuffs and some amount of money for them to cook with.
“They are cooking for themselves,” he said.
Giving a breakdown of the rescued persons, he said about 44 of them were children, 22 women and one old man.
Mallam Babagana also said that security personnel were also on ground to ensure their safety.