At least 26 killed in Taliban, Afghan security cease-fire gathering

At least 26 killed in Taliban, Afghan security cease-fire gathering

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the USA embassy in Kabul have both commended government and the Taliban for honoring the ceasefires.

Despite the order for Taliban fighters to avoid the cities, some militants were seen gathering peacefully in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Sunday morning.

There were also rare scenes of impromptu diplomacy as the interior minister, Wais Barmak, met Taliban members on the outskirts of the capital and district governors broke bread with their Taliban "shadow" counterparts over lunch.

During the extended lull in offensives against the insurgents, Ghani said wounded Taliban would be provided medical care and humanitarian assistance. "We welcome the ceasefire during the period of Eid".

"The consequences could be disastrous", he said.

On Saturday, a suicide auto bomber blew himself up in the city of Jalalabad, in Nangarhar province, killing 36 people and wounding another 65.

The IS-affiliated news agency Amaq said the extremist group had claimed responsibility for the attack.

Najibullah Kamawal, director of the health department in the eastern Nangarhar province, said another 65 people were wounded in Saturday's attack.

No group including the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

There were also festival-like scenes of rival fighters parading down city streets in Logar, holding Afghan and Taliban flags.

Governors and senior government officials hosted small feasts, played music to welcome the militants, coinciding with the close of the month-long Ramadan fasting season.

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A Taliban fighter told the AFP news agency that, while he welcomed the ceasefire, long-lasting peace would only be achieved if U.S. forces left the country. ".Our normal operations will start tomorrow (Monday)". A senior council member said the ceasefire could be extended if a date was established for USA forces to withdraw from Afghanistan.

The Taliban had "exploited" the opportunity to show their popularity among ordinary Afghans, a Western diplomat in Kabul told AFP. "Nobody has any clue how many Taliban militants are now hiding in civilian areas". "The United States is prepared to support, facilitate and participate in these discussions", the statement said.

In his announcement on Saturday, President Ghani appealed to the militants to follow the government's lead and enter peace talks.

For many Afghans it has been first glimpse of peace in their lifetime.

The Taliban are fighting US -led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces, combined under the Resolute Support mission, and the USA -backed government to restore sharia, or Islamic law, after they were ousted by US -led forces in 2001.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed Ghani's address, saying peace talks would have to include a discussion on the role of "international actors and forces".

But Afghanistan has been at war for four decades, ever since the Soviet invasion in 1979.

"We are feeling that these days are golden days for us, it is so peaceful", said Majid.

'I'm so happy for the cease fire in Afghanistan, and I am hoping peace forever'. The group is not allied with the Taliban and has clashed with the insurgent group before.

The Taliban ordered their fighters to avoid gatherings of security forces and civilians, ostensibly to avoid further civilian casualties, following Saturday's attack.

The Taliban roam huge swaths of the country and, with foreign troop levels of about 15,600, down from 140,000 in 2014, there appears little hope of outright government victory.

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