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Afghan police killed in Taliban attack on base

11 June, 2018, 01:36 | Author: Lucille Rivera
  • Ashraf Ghani

The Taliban on Saturday announced a surprise three-day ceasefire with the Afghan government for the duration of Eid al-Fitr, the religious holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. "We particularly support all Afghan-owned and Afghan-led efforts aimed at bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan", it said.

Speaking on the sidelines of a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defence ministers' meeting in Brussels, Nicholson said U.S. forces would respect the apparently unilateral ceasefire with the Taliban announced by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday.

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

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

It is unclear when the ceasefire will begin, as Eid begins when the moon is first sighted.

But attacks appear set to continue over the remainder of Ramadan.

Officials from the U.S. -NATO coalition hope the move will push Kabul into expediting the process of verifying the identities of ANDSF troops through biometric data.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the truce was intended for the Eid holiday and would not affect the group's larger objectives, which include the departure of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

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The palace statement referred to a gathering of Afghanistan's top clerics last week in which they issued a decree against suicide attacks and called for peace talks.

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.

In February Ghani unveiled a plan to open peace talks with the Taliban, including eventually recognizing them as a political party. Mattis spoke to reporters during a break in a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defence ministers meeting.

In the meantime, Taliban insurgents have continued to carry out attacks.

At least 25 local policemen were killed when militants stormed three checkpoints in the Qala-e Zal district of the northern province of Kunduz on June 9, said Amanaddin Qureshi, the governor of neighboring Imam Sahib district.

Laurel Miller, who served as a senior USA official for Afghanistan and Pakistan under both Obama and Trump, said that while any action to reduce violence was positive, the differing terms and timelines for the two parties' cease-fires made the current circumstance a fragile one. It is underpinned both by the heavy daily toll of the long war on ordinary Afghans and U.S. President Donald Trump's limited patience for the costly U.S. involvement here.

Farhad said at least 13 others were wounded in the attack. He added that eight Taliban attackers were killed and more than a dozen others were wounded during the gun battle.

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