Conflicts & War

Taliban announce 3-day ceasefire in Afghanistan for Eid

(Update 1: adds government reaction)

Kabul, July 28 (efe-epa).- The Taliban announced on Tuesday a three-day ceasefire in Afghanistan for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, which begins later this week, a move which was welcomed and reciprocated by the Afghan government.

“For our compatriots to spend the days and nights of Eid in security and happiness, all fighters are directed not to carry out any attacks and offensives against the enemy (Afghan security forces) during the three days of Eid-ul-Adha,” Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.

“If the enemy carried out any attack against you, then give them a strong response,” the Taliban spokesperson added.

The festival of Eid-ul-Adha, one of the biggest holidays of the Islamic calendar and marked by slaughtering animals such as sheep and goats, begins on Friday.

This is the third ceasefire in the past 19 years of war in Afghanistan and comes amid preparations for peace talks between the rebels and the government, which responded to the announcement by declaring a corresponding three-day truce.

“The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan welcomes Taliban’s announcement of a three-day ceasefire during the Eid-ul-Adha days. The president (Ashraf Ghani) has also ordered all defense and security forces of the country to observe the three-days ceasefire and not carry out any attack against the Taliban,” presidential spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi said in a statement.

He said that the government had fulfilled all of its commitments in the peace process and there was no excuse left for the continuation of violence.

“Although the announcement of ceasefire is an important step, the people of Afghanistan want a permanent ceasefire and imminent start of negotiations between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban group,” said the spokesperson.

Kabul has been making efforts to clear the path towards the commencement of the intra-Afghan talks to usher in peace in the country along the lines of an agreement signed between the US and the Taliban on Feb. 29 in Doha.

According to the agreement, Washington would pull its troops out of Afghanistan by mid-2021 in exchange for security guarantees from the Taliban.

However, the intra-Afghan talks, originally scheduled to begin on Mar.10, have been delayed by disagreements between the insurgents and the government at Kabul regarding a prisoner swap process, a precondition for starting the talks.

Afghan and Taliban officials have been holding negotiations to complete the exchange of 5,000 Taliban prisoners for 1,000 Afghan security forces captured by the insurgents so that the talks may begin.

The Taliban spokesperson in his truce message also instructed insurgent fighters not to venture into government-controlled areas and also asked the Afghan security personnel to visit or enter the Taliban held areas.

“Spend the Eid days in your areas and provide security for the people in your areas.”

The decision by Taliban to call a temporary truce came as the violence has escalated in recent weeks in the country, following a three-day ceasefire on Eid-ul-Fitr, another Muslim festival, from 24-26 May this year.

Muslims around the world would be celebrating the festival this week by slaughtering livestock and distributing meat among neighbors, family members, and the poor to commemorate the Quranic tale of the Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son before the will of God.

The day also marks the climax of the annual Haj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. EFE-EPA


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