Wednesday, 03 June, 2020

India welcomes ceasefire extension in Afghanistan

An injured man is pushed on a stretcher to a hospital after a car bomb in Jalalabad city Afghanistan | REUTERS  Parwiz An injured man is pushed on a stretcher to a hospital after a car bomb in Jalalabad city Afghanistan | REUTERS Parwiz
Deanna Wagner | 20 June, 2018, 14:11

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

The march was triggered by a auto bomb in Helmand on March 23 that killed at least 14 people and wounded dozens.

President Ghani has now said the government ceasefire will be extended and has called on the Taliban to extend its ceasefire, which is due to end on Sunday.

That attack killed 25 people and wounded 54 others.

The IS group, which was not part of the truce, had claimed an even deadlier blast near the city a day earlier.

Najibullah Kamawal, director of the provincial health department, said another 60 people were wounded in the attack, which struck a crowd of people as they left the governor's compound.

The three-day agreement was meant to work along with a 10-day ceasefire declared by the Afghan government for Eid al-Fitr, the celebration of the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Following Saturday's attack, the Taliban ordered their fighters to avoid gatherings of security forces and civilians, ostensibly to avoid further civilian casualties.

The peace march, believed to be the first of its kind in Afghanistan, emerged from a sit-in protest and hunger strike in Lashkar Gah, the capital of the southern province of Helmand which is a Taliban stronghold.

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"I am calling on both sides - the government and the Taliban - for God's sake. find a way for peace and reconciliation", he said.

Despite reports that the Taliban's ceasefire might be prolonged, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mojahid told CNN on Sunday, "we have no intention to extend that".

The Afghan government and the Taliban for the first time in more than 17 years mutual observed the cease-fire that had gone into effect on Friday, the opening day of the three-day Eid festival.

Kabul city police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai said some unarmed Taliban had entered the Afghan capital Saturday.

But when the Taliban and security forces failed to heed their demands to stop fighting, some protesters made a decision to take their message directly to the country's top leaders.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed Ghani's address, saying peace talks would have to include a discussion on the role of "international actors and forces".

Videos and photos posted on news sites and social media showed soldiers and Taliban greeting and hugging each other and taking selfies in several provinces.

"Last night, an emergency meeting was called and all the commanders were informed and directed to take strict disciplinary action against all those Taliban members who visited citizens and took pictures with the Afghan authorities", he told Reuters.