Taliban rule out extension of Afghanistan Eid festival ceasefire


On Saturday, a suicide attack on a gathering of Taliban, security forces and civilians in a district of the same eastern province of Nangarhar killed at least 36 people and wounded 65 others, provincial health director Najibullah Kamawal told AFP.

He also asked the Taliban to extend its ceasefire, saying that his government will provide medical and humanitarian aid to wounded members of the Taliban.

An offshoot of the Islamic State, which has had a foothold in the province and has been behind some of the deadliest recent attacks there, claimed responsibility for the attack outside the provincial capital of Jalalabad, according to the tracking group Terror Monitor.

"The ceasefire ends tonight and our operations will begin, inshallah (God willing)".

The bomber targeted a gathering of fighters who were celebrating a three-day truce coinciding with the Eidul Fitr holiday.

What have the Taliban said?

He said if the ceasefire continued, it would allow everyone to share their resources in order to help affected people.

The comments by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid come after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced on Saturday a government truce with the militants would be extended.

"What we witnessed over the last two days was an overwhelmingly positive response by all Afghans to peace", Lt-Colonel Martin O'Donnell, a spokesman for Resolute Support and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, told Reuters.

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Ghani also repeated his promise that everything could be on the negotiation table, including the presence of foreign forces.

People take a selfie with an alleged Taliban militant as a group of Taliban visit a bazaar in Kunduz to greet people. "We have no intention to extend the ceasefire", Mujahid told AFP in a WhatsApp message.

The Taliban are fighting USA -led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces, combined under the Resolute Support mission, and the US -backed government to restore sharia, or Islamic law, after their ouster by US -led forces in 2001.

Ghani's extension of the government'seight-day ceasefire, which had been due to expire Tuesday night, drew immediate global support and calls for the Taliban to follow suit.

In a statement Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed Ghani's offer of an extension to the cease-fire, adding that the U.S. "stands ready to work with the Afghan government, the Taliban, and all the people of Afghanistan to reach a peace agreement and political settlement that brings a permanent end to this war". "Can Kabul police guarantee our security?"

'It was the most peaceful Eid. "I saw Taliban and police standing side by side and taking selfies".

The incidents have plunged war-weary Afghan citizens into a state of despair and highlighted the limitations faced by the government in Kabul in ensuring public security. For the first time we felt safe. Rampant corruption in the Afghan government and a long tug-of-war within the US-brokered national unity government has had a negative impact on the government's efforts to eradicate terrorism.

Daesh militants are active in parts of Nangarhar province. It is hard to describe the joy, ' said student Qais Liwal.

"Not even the attack on peace yesterday in Nangarhar by the enemies of Afghanistan will slow the nationwide momentum or quiet the celebration of a long-overdue cessation of hostilities and a chance for lasting peace".