Taliban orders its first ceasefire in 17-year battle

Afghan Taliban announces Eid ceasefire for first time

The Afghan Taliban have announced a three-day cease-fire over the Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, a first for the group, following an earlier cease-fire announcement by the government.

"The reason for announcing it this time is that, after the Kabul administration announced theirs, the people were concerned that our Mujahedeen might continue operations and it might disturb their Eid celebrations", Mujahid said.

They say foreign forces are excluded from the cease-fire and Taliban operations would continue against them.

The reciprocal truces appeared to be the most promising movement so far in more than a decade of disappointed peace efforts to end a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of Afghans and more than 450 British troops.

In its statement, the Afghan Taliban said it would allow prisoners to visit with families and asked for the group's regional leaders to commute some prisoners' sentences.

This will be a first such project in the war-torn country where China, while trying to expand its influence, has tacitly backed Pakistan, which has been accused by Afghanistan and the USA of backing the Taliban and its most violent attacks in the country destabilising any attempts to restore peace.

In the meantime, Taliban insurgents have continued to carry out attacks.

"Afghanistan welcomes the ceasefire announcement by the Taliban", President Ashraf Ghani's spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri said.

He first spoke about the possibility of a cease-fire with the militant Islamic group in February as part of a potential agreement where the government would be willing to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate political party.

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The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which came a day after the insurgents stormed a military base in the western province of Herat, killing 17 Afghan soldiers.

"Taliban should welcome the Afghan government's ceasefire so that we can achieve peace in our common homeland through intra-Afghan negotiations", said Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, Speaker of the Wolesi Jirga, the Lower House of Parliament.

"(Operations against ISIS) will continue, in fact will be even intensified during this period of ceasefire", U.S. Army General John Nicholson, commander of United States and worldwide forces in Afghanistan, told reporters.

Farhad said one soldier was wounded.

There was no immediate response to the Taliban's statement from the USA military, which has a dual mission to support Afghan troops against the Taliban and, separately, conduct counterterrorism operations against extremists associated with the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

No one immediately claimed the attack in Kot district, but both the Taliban and IS are active in eastern Afghanistan, especially in Nangarhar.

A Defense Ministry spokesman said Taliban also were killed in fighting in 10 provinces.

Amani said that seven other forces were wounded in the attack late Frday night near Sari Pul city.

The Taliban however did not mention the Afghan government's ceasefire move in their statement on Saturday.

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