Taliban agree to unprecedented Eid ceasefire

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The Afghan Taliban on Saturday announced a surprise three-day ceasefire over the Muslim Eid holiday in the middle of June, their first offer of its kind, days after the government declared an unconditional ceasefire of its own.

Taliban spokesmen Zabihullah Mujahid said the top leadership had directed the fighters to refrain from attacking the Afghan security forces for three days, but said foreign forces remained a target.

"This ceasefire is an opportunity for the Taliban to realize that their violent campaign is not winning them hearts and minds but further alienating the Afghan people from their cause", Ghani said.

At least 10 Afghan soldiers were killed and five others wounded after Taliban attacked joint security checkpoints in northern Kunduz province today.

Quoting Arif Noori, a spokesman for the provincial governor, AP reported that women and children were among those killed in Monday's blast, which also wounded three people.

Shortly after breaking away and selecting Rasul as its leader, the splinter group had said it had no problems with the Afghan government and would be willing to talk peace if foreign forces left the country.

"There are about 200, more will be joining soon and they will be here for training and support". Eid al-Fitr celebrates the end of the holy month of Ramadan and begins June 16.

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Mualvi Mir Hassain Shah Naseri, talking on behalf of Ulema Council, said that the council supported the ceasefire announced by the Taliban and the government and wanted lasting peace in the country.

Reacting to the agreement, Shehbaz welcomed the initiatives for the ceasefire in Afghanistan during Eid-ul-Fitr, mooted first by the Afghan government and then also by the Afghan Taliban. But it added that "if the mujahideen are attacked we will strongly defend (ourselves)".

The Taliban claimed responsibility for carrying out both the attacks, saying it also overran several security posts and seized military equipment, including weapons.

There was no report of other casualties.

The first-ever cease-fire by Taliban can be considered "exceptional", experts argue.

On June 4, at least 14 people, including seven religious scholars and four security personnel, were killed when a suicide bomber detonated at an Ulema gathering in Kabul.

Mayaudon said he was however sorry that the foreign troops were not included in the Taliban's ceasefire move.

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