Taliban, Afghan forces declare Eid holiday ceasefire as violence soars

The Taliban and Afghan authorities Monday declared a three-day ceasefire for this week’s Eid al-Fitr holiday, following a pointy spike in violence as Washington pursues a withdrawal of its remaining troops from Afghanistan.

Violence has soared since May 1 — the deadline missed by
the United States to withdraw the final of its troops — and whereas the Taliban
have prevented partaking American forces, assaults in opposition to authorities and civilian
targets haven’t stopped.

In the newest, the inside ministry mentioned Monday that at
least 11 individuals have been killed by a bomb that struck a bus in a single day in
southeastern Zabul province.

That adopted Saturday’s carnage exterior a faculty within the
capital Kabul when a sequence of bombs killed no less than 50 individuals and wounded extra
than 100 — most of them younger women.

Early Monday, the Taliban instructed their fighters “to
halt all offensive operations in opposition to the enemy countrywide from the primary until
the third day of Eid”.

That was matched later within the day by Afghan President Ashraf
Ghani, who went additional by urging the Taliban to announce a everlasting truce to
finish the bloody warfare.

Eid-ul-Fitr marks the tip of the Muslim fasting month of
Ramadan, and the holiday begins in accordance with the sighting of the brand new moon.

Permanent ceasefire wanted

The United States welcomed the transfer — which has taken place
for earlier Islamic holidays — and known as on the Taliban to go additional.

“We urge the Taliban to increase the ceasefire and order
a big discount of violence,” State Department spokesman Ned Price
informed reporters in Washington.

“It’s in nobody’s curiosity — we all know this — for
Afghanistan to as soon as once more devolve into civil warfare,” Price mentioned.

The ceasefire bulletins got here as Pakistan’s navy
chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Kabul and met high officers together with
Ghani, in accordance with an announcement. He was accompanied by Pakistan’s spy chief.

Pakistan would at all times help an “Afghan-led,
Afghan-owned” peace course of, Bajwa mentioned at his assembly with Ghani.

Pakistan is a key regional participant in Afghanistan’s peace
course of, and Afghan officers have usually accused Islamabad of arming and
sheltering the Taliban.

On Saturday, a sequence of bombs detonated exterior a women’
college in Dasht-e-Barchi, a suburb of Kabul largely populated by the Shiite
Hazara neighborhood, which is commonly focused by extremist Sunni Islamist
militants.

It was the deadliest assault in additional than a 12 months and got here as
residents have been buying forward of the Eid holiday.

On Sunday, on a desolate hilltop cemetery, our bodies in small
picket coffins have been lowered into graves, one after the other, by mourners nonetheless in
shock.

“I rushed to the scene and located myself within the center
of our bodies, their fingers and heads lower off and bones smashed,” mentioned Mohammad
Taqi, whose two daughters have been college students on the college however escaped the assault.

“All of them have been women. Their our bodies piled on high of
one another.”

‘Why are they fighting Afghans?’

Kabul resident Rashed Hashimi mentioned the Taliban ought to cease
combating as US forces have been leaving.

“The Taliban have been saying they have been combating the
foreigners, however now the foreigners are leaving,” he mentioned. “So, why
are they combating Afghans?”

Political analyst Fawad Kochi mentioned the ceasefire was a means
for the Taliban management to present its forces a short respite from combating
that has intensified because the US troop withdrawal formally commenced on May 1.

“The authorities will strive all attainable channels to
prolong the ceasefire however the Taliban will return to the battlefield proper
after Eid,” Kochi mentioned.

“The Taliban know {that a} extended ceasefire will cut up
them and kill their momentum. They won’t ever need that.”

The Taliban insist they haven’t carried out assaults in
Kabul since February final 12 months once they signed the cope with Washington that
paved the best way for peace talks and withdrawal of the remaining US troops.

But they’ve clashed every day with Afghan forces within the rugged
countryside.

The United States was alleged to have pulled all forces out
by May 1, however Washington pushed again the date to September 11 — a transfer that
angered the insurgents.

Taliban chief Haibatullah Akhundzada reiterated in a
message launched forward of Eid that any delay in withdrawing the troops was a
“violation” of that deal.

“If America once more fails to reside as much as its commitments,
then the world should bear witness and maintain America accountable for all of the
penalties,” he warned.

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