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Taliban free university professor hostages after more than three years

American and Australian university teachers held hostage by the Taliban for more than three years have been freed under a prisoner swap.

Kevin King, a 63-year-old American, and Timothy Weeks, a 50-year-old Australian, were handed over in a Taliban controlled area of Afghanistan in return for three leading militants.

The exchange of high-profile captives is hoped to rekindle stalled talks to find a political settlement to the long-running Afghan conflict.

Three leading Taliban commanders, including a senior figure in the notorious Haqqani faction, had earlier been flown to Qatar to be handed over to the insurgents’ political office in Doha.

The two professors at the American University of Afghanistan were seized in August 2016. Special forces raids had repeatedly come close to freeing the men, as hostage videos showed they were in declining health.

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