Pul-e-Charkhi prison, on the outskirts of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, is surrounded by colossal grey stone walls topped with barbed wire, and guarded by numerous watch towers and huge steel gates. Of the 10,000 inmates, about one fifth are Taliban – Afghanistan’s hardline Islamist insurgent group.
Taliban inmate Mawlawi Fazel Bari says he wasn’t born a fighter, but after five years in prison, he says he’s never felt more ready to die. “I have become so frustrated. I never thought I would carry out a suicide motor-bomb, but now, by god I swear I will.”
For the time being, Bari will remain incarcerated at the top-security jail. But the prison is one of a number across the country that has been releasing Taliban prisoners in unprecedented numbers, as part of a goodwill gesture by a government locked out of peace talks.