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Taliban Announces Limited Cease-Fire
The Taliban announced Saturday it will halt offensive operations against government security forces across Afghanistan during three-day festivities of Eid al Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
The cease-fire coincides with the unilateral weeklong halting of anti-Taliban operations by the Afghan government starting Tuesday.
An insurgent statement said the Taliban leadership has also ordered his fighters not to hold meetings in civilian areas during the holiday period to enable their countrymen peacefully celebrate the festival. But it vowed to continue attacks on U.S.-led foreign troops in the country.
This will be the first time since 2002 that the Islamist insurgency will cease hostilities in Afghanistan where it currently controls or contests nearly half of 407 Afghan districts.
Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan, Omar Zakhilwal swiftly welcomed the insurgent gesture.
The Taliban in its announcement from its chief Mullah Hibatullah Akhunzada, has also said it will release some prisoners after seeking commitments from them that they will not rejoin Afghan forces.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani earlier this week ordered his forces to stop offensive operations against the Taliban to encourage insurgents to come to the table and seek a negotiated end to the 17 year old conflict.
The move has been widely welcomed and the U.S. has promised to honor Ghani’s peace gesture.
Washington confirmed Thursday it has asked neighboring Pakistan to help in facilitating an Afghan peace and reconciliation process by persuading the Taliban to engage in talks with Kabul.