Afghan Taliban announces Eid ceasefire for first time


Responding to Ghani's announcement, the Taliban yesterday announced the suspension of fighting for the first three days of Eid - the first ceasefire by the militant group in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S. invasion.

"The reason for announcing it this time is that, after the Kabul administration announced theirs, the people were concerned that our Mujahedeen might continue operations and it might disturb their Eid celebrations", Mujahid said.

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 USA 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 reciprocal truces appeared to be the most promising movement so far in more than a decade of disappointed peace efforts to end a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of Afghans and more than 450 British troops.

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

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Family visits should also be arranged for remaining prisoners, it said.

However, the district administrative chief Amanuddin Qureshi confirmed the incident said doznes of Taliban insurgents launched a coordinated attack on security posts in Baghcha and Kalokh areas, leaving at least 25 people dead. However, it insisted that attacks on foreign forces should continue.

The announcement comes two days after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani instructed Afghan forces in a video message to halt operations between Tuesday and June 21.

A Taliban spokesman claimed its fighters killed 35 soldiers and captured six others besides seizing military vehicles and weapons. "Let us hope peace prevails", he said.

"Should the Taliban take full advantage of the ceasefire in the best interests of the Afghan people, then numerous surveillance assets we have overhead could be re-oriented to ISIS, AQ and other foreign terrorists", he told reporters at the meeting in Brussels.

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Their announcement came days after the Afghan government declared a unilateral eight-day ceasefire, and for the first time it promised Afghan civilians, who have borne the brunt of the 17-year conflict, a temporary reduction in violence, which has only been getting worse in recent years. Around 10 insurgents were also killed and nine others wounded during the battle, he said.

There was no immediate response to the Taliban's statement from the US military, which has a dual mission to support Afghan troops against the Taliban and, separately, conduct counterterrorism operations against extremists associated with the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

Farhad said one soldier was wounded.

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

The Taliban however did not mention the Afghan government's ceasefire move in their statement on Saturday.

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