Car bomb kills 20 during Eid ceasefire in east Afghanistan

18 June, 2018, 08:32 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai was shot by militants in 2012 as she sat on a school bus and championed girls education

A suicide attack in restive eastern Afghanistan on Sunday killed at least 14 people and wounded many others, officials said, in the second attack in as many days.

The explosion occurred in a district where dozens of civilians, members of the Taliban and government security forces were celebrating the cease-fire and the Islamic festival of Eid, said Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

Ghani also said that a cease-fire could be accompanied with visits to their prisoners and treatment for their fighters at hospitals in Afghanistan.

European Union's High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini also said in a statement that the "historic ceasefire between the Afghan government and the Taliban during Eid al-Fitr has given the Afghan people a much-needed respite from 17 years of conflict".

Within hours of the explosion President Ashraf Ghani announced he would extend the government's ceasefire and he called on the Taliban to do the same.

The Afghans exempted Islamic State fighters from the ceasefire, saying it would still carry out operations against the insurgent group. But over the past two days Taliban fighters could be seen celebrating the truce alongside Afghan troops and other people in a number of locations. HPC says it will cooperate with the Taliban.

Ghani said the current ceasefire will be extended from the fourth day of Eid.

Members of the Afghan Taliban have been embracing Afghan security forces amid the ceasefire - something that would have seemed impossible just a few days ago, the BBC reported. It overlaps with an Afghan government ceasefire which lasts until Wednesday. They have also demanded the withdrawal of all foreign forces. The Taliban urged people to come forward and pose for the camera.

No surprisesGhani's extension of the government's eight-day ceasefire, which had been due to expire Tuesday night, drew immediate global support and calls for the Taliban to follow suit.

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But on Sunday the Taliban announced that their cease-fire had ended and that they have no intention of extending it.

In eastern Logar province, dozens of Taliban on motorcycles roared through the provincial capital of Pul-e-Alam, some of the vehicles festooned with the Afghan flag.

"They are unarmed as they handed over their weapons at the entrances", Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai told Reuters, adding that the weapons would be returned when the fighters leave the city.

Members of rights groups organized a brief meeting between Afghan forces and Taliban insurgents in Helmand's capital city, Lashkar Gah, where the Taliban have delivered a series of blows to government forces this year.

Ghani was seeking to build on the historic cessation of hostilities, which saw images from around the country of Afghan troops and Taliban fighters praying together, greeting each other peacefully, hugging, taking selfies together and conducting impromptu parades.

"Daesh is the real enemy of Afghans, and they can't see this big joy amongst the Afghans during a peaceful Eid", he said. For the first time we felt safe.

The Taliban, wearing traditional headgear and many with sunglasses, entered Kabul through gates in the south and southeast.

'We are all just so exhausted of war, ' he said.

Speaking from his palace in a solemn and serene tone, Ghani said his government was ready for "any kind of peace and any kind of talks", and that he would be willing to discuss all Taliban concerns, including "the future role of global troops" in the country.

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