- - Monday, December 31, 2012

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan released eight members of the Afghan Taliban from prison on Monday, including the former justice minister under the Taliban, in a bid to boost the peace process in neighboring Afghanistan, the government said.

Pakistan is seen as a linchpin to efforts to bring about peace in Afghanistan as foreign troops plan to depart the country in 2014.

Kabul has been pressing its neighbor to release more prisoners who they hope would bring the Taliban to the negotiating table before the U.S. troops go home.

The Pakistanis appear to have an interest in promoting peace across the border, as a resumption of the civil war there could bring harsh consequences on its side as well.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said eight detainees were released, including Nooruddin Turabi, the justice minister under the Taliban.

Mohammad Azeem, a former guard of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, also was among those released, according to a Taliban official.

It was not clear what role the eight released prisoners might play in bringing Taliban leaders to the negotiating table or what links they have to the group’s current leadership.


9 people killed in farm massacre

BOGOTA — Nine people have been shot to death in the countryside outside Medellin in a massacre police suspect is a settling of accounts between drug traffickers.

Gen. Yesid Vasquez is commander of the Metropolitan Police Department in Medellin, Colombia’s second largest city. He said that the five men and four women were killed on a farm, apparently early Monday.

Gen. Vazquez said the slayings came after a Sunday afternoon party at the “extremely luxurious” country home, and the farm’s owner was among the dead.

The general said that the victims apparently were shot with guns that had silencers, explaining why no one nearby reported hearing gunfire.

Santiago Londono, secretary of government for Antioquia department, said one woman survived the massacre and was being questioned by investigators.


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