Afghanistan: Taliban announce three-day Eid ceasefire

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Attacks on government troops have escalated in recent weeks
Attacks on government troops have escalated in recent weeks

The Taliban have announced a ceasefire with the Afghan government that will take effect when the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr begins on Sunday.

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It follows a rise in attacks by the hardline Islamist group against government troops in recent weeks.

President Ashraf Ghani welcomed the announcement, and said his soldiers would respect the terms of the truce.

The three-day ceasefire is likely to raise hopes of a longer-term reduction in violence in the country.

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But a similar ceasefire was announced for same festival in 2018 and was not extended.

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“Do not carry out any offensive operations against the enemy anywhere. If any action is taken against you by the enemy, defend yourself,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Saturday.

 

 

He added that the ceasefire had been declared solely for Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

President Ghani welcomed the announcement and said he had instructed the military to comply.

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In a televised address from the presidential palace after Eid prayers, he said: “As a responsible government, we also want to take another step forward.

“I announce that the release of the Taliban prisoners will be accelerated and serious measures will be taken.”

A prisoner exchange was agreed under a US-Taliban deal signed in February, but has become a significant hurdle during peace talks. It was meant to be a step towards ending the war, but the Taliban say Afghan officials are trying to delay the release, while officials have complained the militants’ demands are unreasonable.

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