The Taliban has declared a three-day ceasefire across Afghanistan to mark this week’s Eid al-Fitr holiday, two days after more than 50 people – mostly young girls – were killed in bomb blasts outside a school in the capital Kabul.
“Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate are instructed to halt all offensive operations against the enemy countrywide from the first till the third day of Eid,” a statement released by the Taliban said on Monday.
“But if the enemy conducts any assault or attack against you during these days, stand ready to robustly protect and defend yourselves and your territory,” it added.
The ceasefire announcement comes as the United States continues to pull out its last 2,500 troops 20 years after it invaded the country and removed the Taliban from power. US-led efforts to bring peace seem to have faltered as talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government have hardly progressed.
Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, its start determined by the sighting of the new moon. The Taliban declared similar ceasefires last year to mark Muslim holidays.
The government usually reciprocates with a truce, and Fraidon Khawzon – spokesman for chief negotiator Abdullah Abdullah – said early Monday: “We welcome the announcement … the Islamic republic is also ready and will announce soon.”
Meanwhile, on Monday, the interior ministry said at least 11 people were killed in a bus explosion in Zabul province just hours before the Taliban ceasefire announcement.
Interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian told reporters at least 28 people were wounded in Monday’s Zabul bus blast.