Afghan Taliban announces Eid ceasefire for first time

Afghan Taliban announces Eid ceasefire for first time

The Taliban on Saturday announced a surprise three-day ceasefire with the Afghan government for the duration of Eid al-Fitr, the religious holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. It wound down its combat mission in 2014 but its Resolute Support mission comprises nearly 16,000 troops from around 40 countries.

The UN secretary-general's special representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, said he hoped the ceasefires would "serve as a stepping stone" towards peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

It's the first time the militants have made such an offer, which comes days after the government declared its own ceasefire.

The United States intends to step up military operations against the militant Islamic State group in eastern Afghanistan during a temporary ceasefire between the Afghan government and the Taliban, senior U.S. officials said on Friday.The Islamic State group has developed a stronghold in Nangarhar, on the porous eastern border with Pakistan and is among the countrys most risky militants since it appeared around 2015.

The Taliban statement said worldwide forces in the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation coalition would still be the target of attacks.

For the festival, Taliban fighters "are instructed to stop their offensive operations against domestic opposition", the militant group said in a statement to the New York Times, referring to Afghan forces.

"We hope that (the Taliban) will be committed to implementing their announcement of the cease-fire", he said.

"The government of Afghanistan is hopeful that this process will become a long term process and will result in a sustainable peace", Chakhansuri added.

Afghan leader Ashraf Ghani announced an unconditional ceasefire with the Taliban on Thursday
Afghan leader Ashraf Ghani announced an unconditional ceasefire with the Taliban on Thursday

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the truce was intended for the Eid holiday and would not affect the group's larger objectives, which include the departure of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

The clerics were themselves targeted in a suicide attack claimed by IS, which killed 14 people at the entrance to their peace tent in Kabul.

The Trump administration has sent additional troops to try to change the course of America's longest war.

In February, Ghani offered recognition of the Taliban as a legitimate political group in a proposed political process that he said could lead to talks to end more than 16 years of war. Mattis spoke to reporters during a break in a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defence ministers meeting.

Fourteen people including a district governor were killed in a Taliban attack in Afghanistan's southeastern Ghazni province on April 12. However, it insisted that attacks on foreign forces should continue.

Provincial authorities in Kunduz said the Taliban ambushed police posts in the Qala-e-Zal district late Friday, killing 24 personnel stationed there. He added that eight insurgents were killed and more than a dozen others were wounded in the gun battle in Zewal district.

Farhad said at least 13 others were wounded in the attack.

More news: Trump calls for Russian Federation reinstatement as G7 summit enters final day

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