News ID: 216408
Published: 0137 GMT June 09, 2018

Taliban announce unprecedented Eid cease-fire

Taliban announce unprecedented Eid cease-fire
AP

The Taliban announced a three-day cease-fire over the Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, a first for the militant group, following an earlier cease-fire announcement by the Afghan government.

A statement released Saturday by the Taliban said that they would defend themselves in case of any attack. They said foreign forces are excluded from the cease-fire and Taliban operations would continue against them.

The statement added that the leadership of the Taliban may also consider releasing prisoners of war, if they promise not to return to the battlefield.

It is the first time in nearly 17 years of conflict that the militants have declared a cease-fire, albeit a limited one.

Mohammad Haroon Chakhansuri, spokesman for the Afghan president, welcomed the cease-fire announcement during a news conference in Kabul.

"We hope that (the Taliban) will be committed to implementing their announcement of the cease-fire," he said. "The Afghan government will take all steps needed to make sure that there is no bloodshed in Afghanistan."

"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 President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday announced a weeklong cease-fire with the Taliban to coincide with the holiday.

A statement sent from the president's office on Thursday said the government's cease-fire will begin on 27 Ramadan, or June 12 on the Western calendar, and last through the Eid al-Fitr holiday, until around June 19, adding the cease-fire does not include Al-Qaeda or the Daesh terror group.

The move came days after a gathering of Afghanistan's top clerics in Kabul called for a cease-fire and issued a fatwa against suicide bombings and attacks.

An hour after the fatwa was issued, a suicide bomber detonated outside the gathering, killing seven people.

In February Ghani unveiled a plan to open peace talks with the Taliban, including eventually recognizing them as a political party. At the time he also called for a cease-fire.

The insurgents did not officially respond, but announced the launch of their annual spring offensive in an apparent rejection of the plan, one of the most comprehensive ever offered by the Afghan government.

Last month, the Pentagon said that senior Taliban officials have been secretly negotiating with Afghan officials on a possible ceasefire.

Just hours before the Taliban's announcement, at least 17 soldiers were killed when their checkpoint came under attack by Taliban militants in western Herat province, said Gelani Farhad, spokesman for the provincial governor.

Farhad added that eight insurgents were killed and more than a dozen others were wounded in the gun battle in Zewal district.

In northern Kunduz province, at least 13 local policemen were killed early Saturday when their checkpoint came under an attack by Taliban militants, said Nematullah Temori, spokesman for the provincial governor.

Temori said seven others were wounded in Qala-e Zal district. Around 10 insurgents were also killed and nine others wounded during the battle, he said.

In northern Sari Pul, at least six public protection forces were killed after a checkpoint came under an attack by Taliban militants, said Zabi Amani, spokesman for the provincial governor.

Amani said that seven other forces were wounded in the attack late Frday night near Sari Pul city. "Insurgents have set fire to two military Humvees as well as the checkpoint," he said.

He said there was a report of a single Taliban casualty but the group has not commented.

AP and AFP contributed to this story.  

 

   
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