Afghan President announces ceasefire if Taliban agrees, too
In the wake of a string of deadly attacks, Afghanistan’s president has offered a monthlong ceasefire with the Taliban beginning Monday, if the militant group agrees to honor it.
In a series of tweets, Ghani said the ceasefire would extend “til the day of the birth of the prophet (PBUH) i.e., Milad-un-Nabi, provided that the Taliban reciprocate.”
The Taliban has yet to respond to Ashraf Ghani’s overture but said it would release hundreds of prisoners to celebrate the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice.
It was in June, around a separate religious holiday, that the Afghan government called off a unilateral ceasefire with the Taliban it had timed for Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan.
During the three-day truce, dozens of people were killed in two suicide bombings, for which ISIS claimed responsibility. ISIS has not been a party to ceasefire talks.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday welcomed the Afghan government’s announcement.
“The last ceasefire in Afghanistan revealed the deep desire of the Afghan people to end the conflict, and we hope another ceasefire will move the country closer to sustainable security,” Pompeo said in a statement.
“We remain ready to support, facilitate, and participate in direct negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban. There are no obstacles to talks. It is time for peace,” he said.
But peace has disappeared from Afghanistan’s cities of late.
Last week, the Taliban launched a brazen attack on the strategic city of Ghazni, south of the capital Kabul, seizing key buildings and trading fire with security forces.
At least 150 people were killed and 40 injured, the majority of them Afghan security forces.
That same week, 39 soldiers died in Baghlan province when the Taliban overran their base. And 17 troops were also killed when their base in Faryab was also overrun.
Last Wednesday, at least 34 people were killed in a suicide attack targeting an education center in Kabul. Among the victims were dozens of students learning English.