Published: Sun, June 17, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Bomber kills 21, mostly Taliban celebrating truce

Bomber kills 21, mostly Taliban celebrating truce

The explosion occurred in a district where dozens of civilians, members of the Taliban and government security forces were celebrating the cease-fire and the Islamic festival of Eid, said Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

A spokesman for the provincial governor of Nangarhar confirmed a auto bomb was responsible for Saturday's attack in the town of Ghazi Aminullah Khan.

In a rare televised address, Ghani thanked the Taliban for observing the truce and asked the group to extend its own three-day Eid ceasefire, which it announced after the government's in a promising sign of reciprocity. No one immediately claimed the attack, but it was likely carried out by the militant Islamic State (IS) group, which was not included in the cease-fire and has clashed with the Taliban in the past.

"A number of Taliban members who handed over their weapons at the entrances of Kabul have entered the city", Kabul police spokesman Hashmatollah Stanikzai told RFE/RL on June 16.

Saturday's attack came two days after the start of an unprecedented three-day-long cease-fire during Eid.

The militants even met Afghan Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak in the capital, TOLO news reported.

President Ashraf Ghani on Friday expressed hope that the ceasefire would make way for a lengthier halt in the fighting and called for the Taliban to come to the negotiating table. "Everyone is exhausted of war and if our leaders order us to continue the ceasefire, we will hold it forever".

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

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The Taliban, which had announced a surprise three-day cease-fire over the Eid-al-Fitr holiday, denied responsibility. One said that they were not against anyone today and were there for peace.

"The announcement (of the ceasefire), implementation and the wide national support and welcome of the Mujahideen by the people proves that the demands of the Islamic Emirate and the nation are identical - all want the withdrawal of foreign invaders and establishment of an Islamic government", they said.

The Taliban, wearing traditional headgear and many with sunglasses, entered Kabul through gates in the south and southeast.

In Afghanistan's northern Baghlan province, Asadullah Shabaz, head of the provincial council, said unarmed Taliban joined in prayers at a local mosque.

The government also released some Taliban prisoners, he said.

The US commander of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Afghanistan General John Nicholson said recently that the Taliban was engaged in a process of "talking and fighting", and that some factions were involved in secret peace negotiations. "The United States is prepared to support, facilitate and participate in these discussions". "We have no intention to extend the ceasefire", Mujahid told AFP in a WhatsApp message.

Amrullah Saleh, a spy chief-turned-politician who has in the past opposed negotiations with the Taliban until they lay down their arms, told Reuters the Afghan president had made "a grave mistake" allowing them into government-controlled areas.

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