Taliban, Afghan forces declare Eid holiday ceasefire

11 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

KABUL: The Taliban and Afghan government on Monday declared a three-day ceasefire for this week’s Eid al-Fitr holiday, following a sharp spike in violence as Washington goes about withdrawing its remaining troops from Afghanistan, reports AFP.

Violence has soared since May 1 -- the deadline missed by the United States to withdraw the last of its troops—and while the Taliban have avoided engaging American forces, attacks against government and civilian targets have not stopped. In the latest, the interior ministry said Monday that at least 11 people were killed by a bomb that struck a bus overnight in southeastern Zabul province.

That followed Saturday’s carnage outside a school in the capital Kabul when a series of bombs killed at least 50 people and wounded more than 100 -- most of them young girls.

Early Monday, the Taliban instructed their fighters “to halt all offensive operations against the enemy countrywide from the first till the third day of Eid”.

That was matched later in the day by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who went further by urging the Taliban to announce a permanent truce to end the bloody war.

Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, and the holiday begins according to the sighting of the new moon.

The Taliban and government have declared similar ceasefires in the past to mark Islamic holidays.

On Saturday, a series of bombs detonated outside a girls’ school in Dasht-e-Barchi, a suburb of Kabul largely populated by the Shiite Hazara community which is often targeted by extremist Sunni Islamist militants.

It was the deadliest attack in more than a year and came as residents were shopping ahead of the Eid holiday.