Afghan Taliban announce three-day ceasefire

Afghan security forces patrol in Farah after recapturing control of the city from Taleban militants in May. – AFP

Afghan security forces patrol in Farah after recapturing control of the city from Taleban militants in May. – AFP

The group continued offensive operations in the hours before the announcement too, with Afghan defense officials saying Saturday that Taliban attacks had killed 40 members of the security forces in northern and western Afghanistan in the preceding 24 hours. The United States has about 15,000 troops in Afghanistan.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid in an interview with a local Afghan Radio station, Spogmai Radio, said this is not the first time the group called a pause in fighting.

It would last "from the 27th of Ramadan until the fifth day of Eidul Fitr", Ghani tweeted, indicating it could run from June 12-19.

"For as long as I can remember it has been war, war, war".

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.

"We hope that [the Taliban] will be committed to implementing their announcement of the cease-fire, " he said.

The Taliban has set the withdrawal of US-led foreign forces as a precondition for talks.

He said there was a report of a single Taliban casualty but the group has not commented.

"Since our people are under occupation, jihad is incumbent on us", he said.

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Qureshi said eight militants were killed and nine wounded in the clashes. Asif Shinwari, head of Education Department for Nangarhar said that gunmen have attacked the education department's building in Jalalabad.

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

Now headed by Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada after a USA drone strike killed Mansour in Pakistan in 2016, the main Taliban group said its cease-fire during the three days of the Eid celebration would only apply to government forces, not their foreign backers.

Earlier this week, the USA military said it would observe the government cease-fire with the Taliban while continuing its activities against the Islamic State.

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

"(Operations against IS) will continue, in fact, will be even intensified, during this period of ceasefire, as we focus on ISIS", General John Nicholson, commander of USA and worldwide forces in Afghanistan, told reporters in Brussels.

Although the conditions and the length of the cease-fire by both sides differ, the hopes are high for advancement toward a lasting peace in the country. "Many peace processes are littered with failed cease-fires, but that doesn't mean a process can't ultimately succeed".

Singh said the Trump administration would now need to develop a strategy for kindling peace talks.

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