Taliban announces first cease-fire with Afghan forces since start of war

Afghan Taliban announces Eid ceasefire for first time

The Taliban in Afghanistan has for the first time announced a three-day ceasefire over the Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of this week, following a ceasefire announced by the government.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said the Taliban move was an opportunity for the militants to realise "their violent campaign" was "not winning them hearts and minds but further alienating the Afghan people from their cause".

In three provinces, more than 50 members of the Afghan security forces and pro-government militias were killed overnight, government officials said Saturday.

As many as 30,000 Afghan police officers fighting a bloody war against the Taliban have been denied their modest salaries for months, officials said on Wednesday, as the American-led coalition funding the force holds back their pay out of fear that much of it is going into the hands of corrupt leaders.

But it added that "if the mujahideen are attacked we will strongly defend (ourselves)".

However, the Taliban said the ceasefire did not include cessation of hostilities against foreign troops, Tolo News reported. Just hours before the Taliban's announcement, at least 17 soldiers were killed when their checkpoint came under attack by Taliban fighters in western Herat province, said Gelani Farhad, spokesman for the provincial governor.

Despite the Taliban's recent efforts to join peace talks with the Afghan government, the Arab country has seen an uptick in violence.

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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.

Modi was referring to the Afghan government's surprise announcement of the week-long ceasefire with the Taliban for Eid.

All the deaths were claimed by the Taliban. Family visits should also be arranged for remaining prisoners, it said.

Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said this could, for example, allow the U.S.to partially shift the focus of aerial surveillance from the Taliban to IS fighters as well as al-Qaida extremists, who remain a threat 17 years after the US invaded.

In late February, Ghani also offered the Taliban a chance to be recognized as a legitimate political party and withdraw their names from global sanctions lists in exchange for peace.

Laurel Miller, who served as a senior USA official for Afghanistan and Pakistan under both Obama and Trump, said that while any action to reduce violence was positive, the differing terms and timelines for the two parties' cease-fires made the current circumstance a fragile one. Each day past year, an average of about 28 Afghan police officers and army members were killed. He added that eight insurgents were killed and more than a dozen others were wounded in the gun battle in Zewal district.

Temori said that seven others were wounded in Qala-e Zal district.

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