Taliban announce three-day Eid ceasefire

Taliban announce three-day Eid ceasefire

Taliban's three-day truce announcement comes as a surprise following months of violent attacks in the country.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani swiftly welcomed the insurgents' offer and ordered his forces to halt their operation against the Taliban.

"The Afghan government extends the offer of peace. As commander in chief, I have instructed ANDSF to comply with the three-day truce and to defend only if attacked. Further details will be given in my speech tomorrow morning," Ghani said in a tweet.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, said in a statement that the group's "leadership instructs all the mujahideen [Islamic warriors] of the Islamic Emirate to take special measures for security of the countrymen, and conduct no offensive operation against the enemy anywhere."

The insurgent group, which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, vowed to retaliate "if there is an attack from the enemy in any place."

Read more: Afghanistan president Ashraf Ghani and rival Abdullah Abdullah ink power-sharing deal

'A momentous opportunity'

US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who negotiated Washington's deal with the Taliban, hailed the holiday truce.

"We welcome the Taliban's decision to observe a ceasefire during Eid, as well as the Afghan government announcement reciprocating and announcing its own ceasefire," Khalilzad tweeted.

"This development offers the opportunity to accelerate the peace process," he added. Khalilzad spoke of "a momentous opportunity that should not be missed."

UN Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said "all parties should seize this opportunity for peace, for the benefit of all Afghans."

"NATO remains committed to Afghanistan's long-term security," Stoltenberg tweeted.

The Taliban had rejected Kabul's proposal of a truce during the month of Ramadan, saying the ceasefire was "not rational."

A deadly attack at a clinic in Kabul earlier this month killed dozens – including infants. The Taliban denied involvement in the attack, but the Afghan government launched a fresh military operation against the militant group.

Read more: India-Pakistan tug-of-war jeopardizes Afghan peace process

Intra-Afghan talks

The ceasefire announcement comes months after the Taliban signed a landmark peace deal with the US in February, paving the way for the withdrawal of US troops and intra-Afghan talks.

Earleir this week, Khalilzad urged both the Afghan government and Taliban to reduce violence and move ahead with intra-Afghan negotiations.

The US military in Afghanistan also welcomed the ceasefire. "We reiterate our call for the militaries of all sides to reduce violence to allow the peace process to take hold," it said in a statement.

Read more: Afghanistan resumes offensive campaign against Taliban

adi/shs (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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Updated : 2021-01-26 08:01 GMT+08:00