Afghanistan Announces Ceasefire With Taliban To Mark Eid Holiday

Afghanistan Announces Ceasefire With Taliban To Mark Eid Holiday

Afghanistan Announces Ceasefire With Taliban To Mark Eid Holiday

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani declared a provisional three-month ceasefire with the Taliban in a televised broadcast on Sunday, but said the truce would hold only if the insurgents reciprocated.

Taliban sources said their leaders had also provisionally agreed a four-day truce during the annual Islamic feast of sacrifice, though supreme leader Sheikh Haibatullah Akhunzada still had to give his final approval.

The declaration came hours after Taliban fighters launched an attack in in the northern province of Faryab, an interior ministry official told Reuters, leading to the disappearance of 50 government forces.

In a surprise attack earlier this month, the Taliban infiltrated the city of Ghazni, a provincial capital just 100 miles southwest of Kabul.

A senior official in Ghani's office said the conditional ceasefire would run for three months, until the Prophet Mohammed's birthday which Afghanistan celebrate on Nov.21.

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Ghani did not mention any cease in fighting with the Islamic State group, which has expanded since it first emerged in the region in 2014, or any of the other militant groups plaguing Afghanistan.

In June this year, Ghani announced an unconditional ceasefire with the Taliban for about two weeks. After bombings by Afghan and US air forces, the Taliban left Ghanzi, but the attack disrupted months of optimism over advances in the peace process.

Since the June cease-fire, however, the Taliban have increased attacks across Afghanistan and have engaged in long-sought discussions with US officials.

Mr. Ghani said government forces would observe a truce in fighting with the Taliban to coincide with the start on Monday of the three-day Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha and continue it through the commemoration of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday on November 19 if the insurgents reciprocated. ISIS has not been a party to ceasefire talks.

It was also welcomed by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, who tweeted: "I encourage the Taliban to demonstrate their concern for Afghans by respecting it".

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