MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan, April 1 (Xinhua) -- More than 200 rebels affiliated with the Taliban group laid down arms and surrendered to the government in the northern Afghan province of Balkh on Saturday, said a provincial source.
"The armed men joined peace and reconciliation process in Chimtal district, following calls by provincial Governor Atta Mohammad Noor and provincial peace officials and mediation of the local elders," the source told Xinhua anonymously.
The former militants were active in mountainous district and among the surrendered people were their commanders named Khan Mohammad and Dawa Khan, he added.
Among the weapons they brought during a welcoming ceremony held in Chimtal were dozens of AK-47 guns, machine guns and rocket launchers, the source said, adding further details will be shared with the media later by provincial officials.
The Afghan government launched the peace and reconciliation process in 2010 to encourage Taliban to disarm and give up militancy.
More than 10,000 Taliban militants have joined the peace and reconciliation process since mid-2010 when the government launched the initiative, according to officials, but the claim has been rejected by the armed outfit as baseless.