Taliban rule out extension of Afghanistan Eid festival ceasefire

20 June, 2018, 06:10 | Author: Kim Reid
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A wounded man is carried after a deadly suicide attack struck a crowd of people as they left the governor's compound, in Jalalabad, capital of eastern Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, Sunday, June 17, 2018.

Repeated attacks in Afghanistan over the past several months have killed and wounded hundreds of innocent Afghans, and shown the world the fragile and worsening state of security in the conflict-stricken country.

President Ashraf Ghani said he would extend a government ceasefire on Saturday and urged the Taliban to do the same, garnering praise at home and worldwide backing, but critics said such overtures have allowed the Taliban to pour into cities unchecked and win the upper hand.

In a rare televised address, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced on Saturday the government was extending the week-long ceasefire which was due to end on Tuesday.

"I order the security forces to remain on their defensive positions", Ghani said, adding details of the extension would be released later.

Gen John Nicholson, the commander of US Forces-Afghanistan and the NATO-led Resolute Support, said the United States would adhere to the ceasefire announced by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, which did not include US counterterrorism attacks on other terror groups.

Afghanistan's Taliban has rejected an extension to a three-day cease-fire coinciding with the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

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However, the unprecedented gatherings were interrupted by a scene all too familiar in Afghan life - an ISIS suicide bombing that claimed at least 26 lives Saturday.

In his tweet, Ghani said he also called Pakistan's Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Taliban militants headed into cities across Afghanistan on Sunday as they celebrated their Eid ceasefire with feasts and selfies, raising questions about what happens when the ceasefire ends at midnight.

"We don't have mechanisms in place to mitigate the breach of ceasefire by the Taliban", Saleh told Reuters.

The explosion occurred in the eastern province of Nangarhar around 5:15 p.m. local time, according to CNN.

Zabihullah Mujahid also said the group banned its fighters from attending public gatherings, going into cities, and meeting with the Afghan public, as well as officials and security forces, during the cease-fire.

The group has killed hundreds of people in multiple attacks across the country since it first emerged in the region in 2014.

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In the meantime, the USA embassy said in a statement that the United States extends its best wishes to the people of Afghanistan in celebration of Eid al-Fitr.

Others said the ceasefire had shifted their perception of peace. "We are ready for comprehensive negotiation, all those issues and demands that have been put-forth we are ready to discuss them at the peace talks", Ghani said.

"As President Ghani emphasized in his statement to the Afghan people, peace talks by necessity would include a discussion of the role of global actors and forces", Pompeo said in a statement.

He also said that peace talks needed "a discussion of the role of worldwide actors and forces".

Afghan Deputy Interior Minister Masood Azizi said the ceasefire was being monitored throughout the country. But they have refused to meet with the USA -backed government, saying they will only negotiate with the United States directly.

They said they would continue attacking US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops.

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