|Taliban fighters attend a surrender ceremony in Balkh province in north Afghanistan, Feb. 20, 2013. Up to 16 Taliban militants renounced violence and joined the government-initiated peace and reconciliation process in Balkh on Wednesday, local police said. (Xinhua/Azorda)
MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Up to 16 Taliban militants renounced violence and joined the government- initiated peace and reconciliation process in the northern Afghan province of Balkh on Wednesday, police said.
"A total of 16 Taliban, including their commander Amir Gul, give up fighting and joined the peace process Wednesday," the deputy provincial police chief Abdul Rizaq Qadri told Xinhua.
The former militants were active in Dihdadi district, the police official said, adding they also handed over 14 rounds of weapons to security authorities during a welcoming ceremony held in Mazar-i-Sharif earlier in the day.
With the former insurgents' surrender, peace and stability would be further strengthened in the province 305 km north of capital Kabul, he said.
The Afghan government set up a 70-member High Peace Council in the summer of 2010 to encourage Taliban to disarm and give up militancy against the government.
Taliban militants fighting Afghan and NATO-led troops have not made any comment yet.