Afghanistan offers temporary ceasefire with Taliban at end of Ramadan


The Afghan government on Thursday said it would temporarily halt operations against the Taliban next week, which marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the start of Eid celebrations.

Afghan security forces will stop all "offensive manoeuvres" against the militants from 12 - 20 June, President Ashraf Ghani said on Twitter, adding that the ceasefire would only include Taliban fighters, not Islamic State militants.

The Taliban have yet to respond to the announcement.

Ghani said the move follows a declaration by clerics on Monday that suicide bombings are against Islam and that the continued violence and war in Afghanistan go against Islamic law. After the declaration, an Islamic State suicide bomber blew himself up outside the facility killing at least seven people.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the announcement, saying it showed the "seriousness of President Ghani and the Afghan government when it comes to their efforts to find a peaceful negotiated solution to the conflict."

"I call on the Taliban to join the ceasefire and to lay down their arms and to engage in a constructive dialogue to find a peaceful negotiated solution," he said.

The NATO chief noted that the alliance was committed to supporting Afghanistan by providing training and funding, adding that the situation in the country continued to be "difficult."

Despite several attempts by the Afghan and U.S. governments to bring the Taliban to the peace table, the militants have yet to accept a peace offer that will end the conflict.

The militants say the international alliance in Afghanistan is an invasion and the Afghan government is a puppet of the United States.

The Afghan president in February offered a truce and peace with the radical Islamist movement, but the militants are yet to officially reply to the offering and announced their annual offensive in late April.

Since then, militant attacks on Afghan security forces, district centres and provincial capitals have increased.    (dpa)

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