Afghan Taliban raise hopes with surprise Eid ceasefire

We are in the middle of a new offensive against ISIS in Nangarhar says General John Nicholson

We are in the middle of a new offensive against ISIS in Nangarhar says General John Nicholson

The Taliban's cease-fire only applies to attacks on "internal enemies" - not "foreign invaders" - as they would continue attacks "wherever and whenever they are seen", according to their statement Saturday.

"We have asked for Pakistan's assistance in facilitating a peace process and we have sought to understand Pakistan's own core security concerns and ensure that its interests are taken into account in any peace process", Curtis said.

The Taliban statement said worldwide forces in the USA -led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation coalition would still be the target of attacks.

Conversations with diplomats and senior officials in Kabul suggest that the recent unilateral ceasefire announced by the government had been sudden, unco-ordinated with the Taliban and not the outcome of a broader, cohesive peace effort.

Pakistani officials however acknowledge families of some Taliban leaders and fighters might still be residing along with almost 2.7 million Afghan refugees the country hosts, and they do not rule out the presence of "residual" insurgent fighters hiding in the refugee population. Eid al-Fitr celebrates the end of the holy month of Ramadan and begins June 16.

Eid is the biggest festival in the Muslim calendar when families visit each other's homes, enjoy feasting and in Afghanistan tend graves of fallen loved ones.

This is the first time the Taliban have agreed a ceasefire since the 2001 US-led invasion.

"The Taliban confiscated weapons following the attack", Sarwari told AFP.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday announced a weeklong cease-fire with the Taliban to coincide with the holiday.

Afghan security officials stand guard at a check point in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on June 7, 2018. However, it insisted that attacks on foreign forces should continue.

The clerics were themselves targeted in a suicide attack claimed by IS, which killed 14 people at the entrance to their peace tent in Kabul. He added that eight Taliban attackers were killed and more than a dozen others were wounded during the gun battle.

US President Donald Trump unveiled a more hawkish military approach to Afghanistan in August past year, including a surge in air strikes aimed at forcing the Taliban to the negotiating table.

Several hours later, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the truce was intended for the Eid holiday and would not affect the group's larger goals, which include the removal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

The Taliban's surprise announcement comes as Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are due to sit down to a summit in Singapore on Tuesday, something few people would have predicted just months ago when threats between the two sides were at their most bellicose.

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