Three leaders of the Haqqani Network were "conditionally" freed from prison and would be swapped for the release of a US and an Australian professor, who were abducted by a terror in Afghanistan in 2016, said Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday, November 12.

The prisoners were identified by Ghani as Anas Haqqani, Haji Mali Khan and Hafiz Rashid. "The decision was taken in close consultation with our international partners, including the US, to pave the ground for direct talks with the Taliban and to find a negotiated settlement for Afghanistan's crisis," Ghani said in an address broadcast live in state-run RTA TV.

Afghan president-elect Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai
Afghan president-elect Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai speaks during an event in Kabul.Reuters

Ghani did not give details where and when the swap of the prisoners will take place, saying the exchange would be on conditions for safe release of the professors.

The two lecturers worked in the American University of Afghanistan.

Anas Haqqani is the son of the late Jalaluddin Haqqani, former leader of the Haqqani Network.

As a Taliban-linked militant group, the Haqqani Network is mostly operating in eastern provinces and capital Kabul and responsible for many high-profile attacks on security forces.

The network was designated as a terrorist group by the US in 2012.

(With inputs from IANS)