Published: Mon, June 11, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Taliban announce first ceasefire since 2001 to mark end of Ramadan

Taliban announce first ceasefire since 2001 to mark end of Ramadan

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.

There was no immediate response to the Taliban's statement from the USA military, which has a dual mission to support Afghan troops against the Taliban and, separately, conduct counterterrorism operations against extremists associated with the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

In a televised address on Thursday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced an unconditional ceasefire with the Taliban until June 20, coinciding with the end of fasting month of Ramadan.

But the Taliban say they will stop fighting for three days.

It is the first time in almost 17 years that the militants have declared a cessation of violence, albeit a limited one, since the government it ran was toppled by the 2001 US-led invasion. They also said they would defend themselves against any attack.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi has welcomed the Afghan government's decision to announce a ceasefire with the Taliban on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr Muslim holidays in the war-stricken country.

"Our operations will continue against them, we will attack them wherever we see them", it said. "Let us hope peace prevails", he said.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mojahid claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement to media.

Afghan leader Ashraf Ghani announced an unconditional ceasefire with the Taliban on Thursday
Afghan leader Ashraf Ghani announced an unconditional ceasefire with the Taliban on Thursday

Fourteen people including a district governor were killed in a Taliban attack in Afghanistan's southeastern Ghazni province on April 12.

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.

Ghani in February offered recognition of the Taliban as a legitimate political group in a proposed political process that he said could lead to talks to end more than 16 years of war.

The Trump administration has increased the number of USA 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.

In recent years, a resurgent Taliban has taken control of significant swaths of the country and terrorized citizens and foreigners alike.

Provincial authorities in Kunduz said the Taliban ambushed police posts in the Qala-e-Zal district late Friday, killing 24 personnel stationed there.

Some diplomats said it came as a bit of a surprise, showing that at one level the government wanted intensified air strikes, but on another it was offering an olive branch. He added that eight insurgents were killed and more than a dozen others were wounded in the gun battle in Zewal district.

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