Sun, Jun 10, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Taliban agrees to unexpected ceasefire for Eid

TEMPORARY RELIEF:This marks the first time in nearly 17 years that the militants have declared an armistice, but ‘foreign occupiers‘ were excluded

AFP, KABUL

The Taliban yesterday announced its first ceasefire in Afghanistan since the 2001 US invasion, with a three-day halt in hostilities against the country’s security forces that was greeted with relief by war-weary Afghans.

However, the group warned the suspension of fighting for the first three days of Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that caps off Ramadan, did not extend to “foreign occupiers,” who would continue to be targeted by the militants.

The unexpected move came two days after the Afghan government’s own surprise announcement of a week-long halt to operations against the Taliban.

It is the first time in nearly 17 years of conflict that the militants have declared a ceasefire, albeit a limited one.

“All the mujahideen are directed to stop offensive operations against Afghan forces for the first three days of Eid al-Fitr,” the Taliban said in a WhatsApp message to journalists.

However, it added: “If the mujahideen are attacked we will strongly defend [ourselves].”

The Taliban said “foreign occupiers are the exception” to the order sent to its fighters around the country.

“Our operations will continue against them, we will attack them wherever we see them,” it said.

Even a brief cessation of hostilities would bring welcome relief to civilians in the war-torn country, nearly two decades after the Taliban regime was toppled.

In recent years the resurgent militants, along with the Islamic State group, have stepped up their attacks on Kabul in particular, making it the deadliest place in the country for civilians.

“Only three days the Taliban are not killing us. The Taliban have won our hearts, if they strike peace deal with the Afghan Government, the Afghans will take them on their shoulders with love,” wrote Shah Jahan Siyal, an Afghan resident of Jalalabad, a city in Nangarhar Province.

“Long live the Taliban! Finally we can breathe a deep sigh of relief on Eid days,” posted Dewa Niazai, a women’s rights activist in the same province. “I hope these three days of ceasefire turn to a permanent ceasefire.”

Afghan political analyst Haroon Mir cautiously welcomed the Taliban’s move.

“We are very happy that the Taliban responded positively,” Mir said. “It’s still too early to be very optimistic about it. We don’t know what will happen in the next few days or afterwards.”

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday declared an apparently unilateral week-long ceasefire with the Taliban.

It would last “from the 27th of Ramadan until the fifth day of Eid-al-Fitr,” Ghani tweeted from an official account, indicating it could run from June 12 to June 19.

The move came days after a gathering of Afghanistan’s top clerics in Kabul called for a ceasefire and issued a fatwa against suicide bombings and attacks.

An hour after the fatwa was issued, a suicide bomber detonated outside the gathering, killing seven people.

In February, Ghani unveiled a plan to open peace talks with the Taliban, including eventually recognizing them as a political party. At the time he also called for a ceasefire.

The insurgents did not officially respond, but announced the launch of their annual spring offensive in an apparent rejection of the plan, one of the most comprehensive ever offered by the Afghan government.

Last month, the Pentagon said that senior Taliban officials have been secretly negotiating with Afghan officials on a possible ceasefire.

This story has been viewed 1253 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top