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Taliban release 2 Americans who were detained in Afghanistan

The release is not part of a prisoner swap, the State Department said.

The Taliban on Tuesday released two Americans who had been detained in Afghanistan, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.

The releases were announced as the United Nations Security Council was meeting about Afghanistan.

The move was a goodwill gesture — not part of a prisoner swap, he said.

“We are providing these two U.S. nationals with all appropriate assistance,” Price said.

The U.S. citizens, who have not been publicly identified, were flown from Kabul to Doha, Qatar, a senior State Department official said, and the Qatari government was helpful in securing their release.

A senior administration official said: “We are glad these U.S. nationals will reunite with their families soon. Out of respect for the privacy of these individuals and their families, we are not going to confirm names.”

The release came the same day the Taliban banned women from private and public universities in Afghanistan.

"The irony of them granting us a goodwill gesture on a day where they undertake a gesture like this to the Afghan people, it’s not lost on us, but it is a question for the Taliban themselves regarding the timing of this" Price said.

The U.S. "condemns in strongest terms the Taliban's indefensible decision to ban women from universities, girls from secondary schools," Price said.

 Students from the faculties of Engineering and Computer Science at their graduation ceremony at the Benawa University in Kandahar
Students from the faculties of engineering and computer science at their graduation ceremony at Benawa University in Kandahar on March 17. Javed Tanveer / AFP via Getty Images file

Despite outlining a vision granting rights for Afghan women in accordance with Islamic law, the Taliban have not followed through on their promises.

In March, they backtracked when they announced that high schools for girls would remain closed pending a plan drawn up in accordance with its interpretation of Islamic law.

Teachers and students from three high schools around the capital, Kabul, said girls had returned in excitement to campuses but were ordered to go home.

“We all got disappointed, and we all became totally hopeless when the principal told us. She was also crying,” said a student at the time, whose name was not disclosed for security reasons.

Under the Taliban's rule, girls were banned from middle school and high school and women have been restricted from most employment and must wear head-to-toe clothing in public.

When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, they banned female education and most employment.

The U.S. has not had a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan since it withdrew the last of its troops in August 2021.

Qatar has acted as the protecting power for Americans who remain in Afghanistan.