After several meetings between British and Taliban officials, the Taliban released on Monday five male Brits who were held captive in Afghanistan since the US troops’ hastened withdrawal from the country last August.
They were handed over to the United Kingdom on Sunday.
In a statement issued on Monday, the British Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office stressed that the men were in Afghanistan against travel advice and had no role with the British government there.
The UK Government expressed its regrets over the episode and has apologized for any breach of Afghan culture and customs or laws the British nationals may have done, offering their assurance of future good conduct.
Thanking the British diplomats for their role in securing the arrested British citizens’ release, British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss wrote on Twitter that the freed British citizens will soon be reunited with their families.
The Taliban authorities arrested the five British nationals, according to The New York Times, as they were trying to leave Afghanistan during the chaotic US military withdrawal from Kabul and accused them of violating the country’s laws and the traditions of the Afghan people.
Emphasizing that Afghanistan is now safe for anyone that wants to come to the country with confidence for charity and tourism, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said that the released British citizens pledged to abide by the Afghanistan laws, the traditions, and the culture of the people.
He also refused the accusations that the Taliban’s security forces are targeting and threatening charity groups.
After almost 20 years of war, American, British, and other Western coalition troops started their chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, allowing the Taliban to seize control days before they left the country later that month.
The Islamist group launched a crackdown on foreigners and their Afghan partners late last year, accusing them of working in the country illegally, and also briefly arrested local rights activists and journalists critical of Taliban rule.