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Freed Taliban fighters return to insurgency

Published: Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

ISLAMABAD – At least half the Afghan Taliban recently freed from Pakistani prisons have rejoined the insurgency, a Pakistani intelligence official says, throwing into question the value of such goodwill gestures that the Afghan government requested to restart a flagging peace process.

A senior Western official who spoke on the condition of anonymity so he could talk freely confirmed that “some” newly freed Taliban have returned to the battlefield.

The development underscores the difficulties in reaching a political deal with the Taliban before the end of 2014, when NATO and U.S. troops are scheduled to have completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan. Many Taliban released from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay have also gone underground.

Despite some recent signs from the Taliban that they are willing to share power and want to avoid a civil war, the militants may well be playing for time until 2014.

That’s also when the Afghans are scheduled to elect a new president to succeed Hamid Karzai, whom the insurgents consider an American puppet.

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