Afghan Taliban announce three-day Eid cease-fire to calm violence

Source:AFP Published: 2020/5/24 16:48:42

Afghan Taliban militants and villagers attend a gathering to celebrate the US negotiated peace deal and their victory over the US in Afghanistan in the country's Alingar District of Laghman Province on Monday. Photo: AFP

The Taliban announced a three-day cease-fire during the Eid al-Fitr holiday starting Sunday in a surprise move following months of bloody fighting with Afghan forces after the group signed a landmark agreement with the US. 

President Ashraf Ghani swiftly welcomed the insurgents' offer and ordered his forces to also comply, while the US envoy to Afghanistan hailed the deal as a "momentous opportunity."

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

The statement, which announced a halt to hostilities "during the three days of Eid," instructed Taliban fighters to refrain from entering government areas and also said that Kabul forces were not allowed to enter territories under their control. 

Since the US invasion in 2001 there has only been one other pause in the fighting - a surprise three-day cease-fire between the Taliban and Kabul marking the religious festival of Eid in 2018.

That cease-fire call was given by Ghani, which the insurgents had accepted.

During the brief lull in fighting at that time, Afghans responded joyfully, with Taliban fighters, security forces and civilians hugging, sharing ice creams and posing for selfies in previously unimaginable scenes.

Ghani was quick to accept the Taliban cease-fire offer Saturday.

"I welcome the cease-fire announcement by the Taliban," Ghani said on Twitter.

"As commander-in-chief I have instructed ANDSF [Afghan National Defence Security Force] to comply with the three-day truce and to defend only if attacked,"  he noted.

The announcement comes just days after the Taliban's leader Haibatullah Akhundzada urged Washington "not to waste" the opportunity offered by the deal the militants signed with the US in February that set the stage for the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country. 



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