Taliban declares an 'Eid truce' after Afghan president's offer

10 June, 2018, 10:26 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • A suicide bombing targeted a gathering of Afghanistan's top clerics on Monday in Kabul killing at least seven people and wounding

At least 19 Afghan police officers were killed Saturday in a pre-dawn raid by the Taliban on a base in the northern province of Kunduz, officials said, hours before the militants announced an unprecedented ceasefire starting next week.

The ceasefire, the first offer of its kind, will begin either on Friday or Saturday, as Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, falls on one of these days.

Ghani's decision came after a meeting of Islamic clerics declared a fatwa, or ruling, against suicide bombings, one of which, claimed by Islamic State, killed 14 people at the entrance to the clerics' peace tent in Kabul.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) also welcomed the Taliban's announcement saying that it partially reciprocates the Afghan government's temporary ceasefire.

The Taliban had denounced the gathering, insisting its fight against what it considers are foreign invaders was justified. The Taliban, seeking to reimpose strict Islamic law after their 2001 ouster at the hands of USA -led troops, have launched attacks during Eid in the past.

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

In February Ghani unveiled a plan to open peace talks with the Taliban, including eventually recognizing them as a political party.

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Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, said their announcement was not in response to the government's declaration of ceasefire.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has led global security efforts in Afghanistan since 2003.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mojahid claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement to media.

The Trump administration has increased the number of US troops in Afghanistan in an effort to give local forces, which continue to struggle despite more than a decade and a half of outside support, a battlefield advantage.

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

"You can't end 40 years of war in a few days, but this is definitely the best chance for a peace process since at least since the US surge" of troops under President Barack Obama in 2010-2011, said Vikram Singh, a former Pentagon and State Department official who is now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington. However, it insisted that attacks on foreign forces should continue.

Qureshi further added that at least nine Taliban insurgents were also wounded during the clashes with the security personnel. Hours before accepting the truce, the militants stormed military bases in western and northern Afghanistan, killing almost 40 soldiers.

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