Afghanistan president calls for Taliban cease-fire to mark Eid holiday

Afghanistan Announces Ceasefire With Taliban To Mark Eid Holiday

"It is our hope, and that of the global community, that the Afghan people may celebrate Eid al-Adha this year in peace, free from fear", he added, referring to the Islamic holiday that starts next week.

"The conditional ceasefire will start tomorrow and it will continue as long as the Taliban preserves and respects it", Ghani said in a ceremony celebrating 99 years of independence from British rule.

It was not immediately clear whether the Taliban had accepted Ghani's call for a truce during Eid, the annual Islamic feast of sacrifice, which officially begins on Tuesday.

The declaration came hours after Taliban fighters launched an attack in in the northern province of Faryab, an interior ministry official told Reuters, leading to the disappearance of 50 government forces. Afghan soldiers backed by USA forces managed to push back the heavily armed rebels last week.

The president's announcement was immediately welcomed in neighbouring Pakistan, which has always been accused of fostering links with the Taliban's leadership and providing sanctuary to its fighters.

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It would only cover the Taliban, not other groups including Islamic State, officials said.

The statement comes in the wake of Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa reiterating on Thursday that there is no support for any terrorist activity inside Afghanistan from Pakistan and the Afghan government needs to look inwards as the problem lies within the war-torn country.

Ghani declared the latest ceasefire in a televised broadcast on Sunday on the condition that the Taliban reciprocated. "It is time for peace", he said in a statement.

Mr. Ghani said government forces would observe a truce in fighting with the Taliban to coincide with the start on Monday of the three-day Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha and continue it through the commemoration of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday on November 19 if the insurgents reciprocated. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Twitter said he supports Ghani's announcement and encouraged the Taliban to demonstrate their concern for Afghans by respecting it.

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