Taliban announce first cease fire in 17-year Afghan war

Afghan Taliban fighters killed 17 Afghan police officers in an attack on a police base before dawn Saturday, just hours before the militant group called for a three-day ceasefire with Afghan forces over the Eid al-Fitr holiday in mid-June. "We particularly support all Afghan-owned and Afghan-led efforts aimed at bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan", it said.

The halt in hostilities at the end of this week comes two days after the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, announced his government's unilateral eight-day ceasefire.

It is the first time in almost 17 years of conflict that the militants have declared a ceasefire, albeit a limited one.

It was not clear exactly when the ceasefire would begin, as Eid starts when the moon is first sighted, but Afghan calendars mark Friday June 15 as the end of Ramadan.

But it added that "if the mujahideen are attacked we will strongly defend (ourselves)".

The United States intends to step up military operations against the militant Islamic State group in eastern Afghanistan during a temporary ceasefire between the Afghan government and the Taliban, senior USA officials said on Friday.The Islamic State group has developed a stronghold in Nangarhar, on the porous eastern border with Pakistan and is among the countrys most unsafe militants since it appeared around 2015.

"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.

Government forces will not stop fighting other militants, like the Islamic State (IS) group.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during during a peace and security cooperation conference in Kabul Afghanistan
Taliban agree three-day Eid ceasefire in Afghanistan

"We hope that (the Taliban) will be committed to implementing their announcement of the cease-fire", he said. "I hope the bold initiatives towards peace taken by President Ghani will be respected by all parties", Modi said at the summit, also attended by Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain.

But analysts were cautious, warning that the Taliban and its brutal arm the Haqqani Network could launch attacks on behalf of the Daesh group, which they are believed to have done previously.

The Trump administration has sent additional troops to try to change the course of America's longest war. 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. Mattis spoke to reporters during a break in a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defence ministers meeting.

Farhad said one soldier was wounded.

In northern Kunduz province at least 13 local policemen were killed early Saturday when their checkpoint came under an attack by Taliban fighters, said Nematullah Temori, spokesman for the provincial governor.

Qureshi further added that at least nine Taliban insurgents were also wounded during the clashes with the security personnel.

Last month, the Pentagon said that senior Taliban officials have been secretly negotiating with Afghan officials on a possible ceasefire.

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