Pak welcomes Taliban’s ceasefire announcement with Afghan forces for Eid


Taliban militants have ordered their first ceasefire in Afghanistan's grinding 17-year-long insurgency, just days after the Afghan president offered his own temporary truce as a peace overture.

The Afghan Taliban announced a three-day cease-fire with Afghan forces over Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim holiday at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, after the government called for a holiday cease-fire.

On Friday, senior US officials said they will intensify combat against Daesh affiliate in the country during the Kabul government's temporary halt to attacks on the Taliban.

'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. "We wanted them to be confident that we also won't do any operations".

However, U.S. -led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces are exempt from the ceasefire, with the Taliban saying they would continue to attack "foreign invaders", the Wall Street Journal reported.

"Foreign occupiers are excepted; continue your offensives on them whenever and wherever you see them", leaders told their followers in a statement.

In his video message, Ghani said all Afghan security forces would be instructed to stop offensive operations "only on Afghan insurgents", with ISIS, al Qaeda and other worldwide terrorist networks excluded from the ceasefire.

"We hope that (the Taliban) will be committed to implementing their announcement of the cease-fire", he said. Ghani's surprise announcement underscored his desire to establish a peace process that could put an end to a conflict that even his backers say cannot be won militarily.

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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.

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. He first spoke about the possibility of a cease-fire with the militant Islamic group in February as part of a potential agreement where the government would be willing to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate political party.

In the meantime, Taliban insurgents have continued to carry out attacks. In the Zawol district of western Herat province, the governor's spokesman said 18 members of the Afghan army and police were killed in an overnight ambush Friday.

Farhad said one soldier was wounded.

"In three days, maybe the unity of Taliban insurgents will be put to test", a European diplomat told Reuters.

Amani said that seven other forces were wounded in the attack late Frday night near Sari Pul city.