Published: Mon, August 20, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

USA welcomes Afghanistan's latest ceasefire offer to Taliban

USA welcomes Afghanistan's latest ceasefire offer to Taliban

President Ashraf Ghani called for a month-long ceasefire during the Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha, but insurgents acted within hours of it starting.

He added: "So far, there is no news on the fate of the passengers, but tribal elders and local officials are trying to negotiate with the Taliban".

A Kundaz governor spokesman added: "The buses were stopped by the Taliban fighters, passengers were forced to step down and they have been taken to an undisclosed location".

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani declared a provisional three-month ceasefire with the Taliban in a televised broadcast August 19, but said the truce would hold only if the militants reciprocated.

In the meantime, Mahzon said the kidnapped passengers were on their way to Kabul province when they were kidnapped.

Afghan security forces battled the militants inside the city for five days, as the U.S. carried out airstrikes and sent advisers to help the Afghan ground forces.

"We chose to seize the buses after our intelligence inputs revealed that many men working with Afghan security forces were travelling to Kabul in these buses", Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, said by telephone.

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Abdul Rahman Aqtash, a police chief in neighbouring Takhar province, said the passengers had been on their way to Kabul. Taliban sources confirmed that their leaders had provisionally agreed a four-day truce but said that their leader, Sheikh Haibatullah Akhunzada, still had to give his final approval.

Taliban said that during the ceasefire, they will not attack the Afghan troops and other security forces but would defend themselves in case they came under attack.

The government had previously announced a cease-fire with the Taliban during the Eid al-Fitr holiday in June.

There was no comment from the Taliban but the area of the incident is under Taliban control.

Sayed Assadullah Sadat, a Kunduz provincial council member, said earlier on August 20 that the buses "were packed with people and maybe there were army soldiers and police" among those taken hostage. He reiterated the group's standing position that the country's 17-year war can only be brought to an end through direct talks with the United States.

"I doubt the Taliban would reciprocate given their past stance and recent gains on the ground", said Mir. The heavy casualties underscore the challenges the government in Kabul faces since the USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officially ended their combat mission at the end of 2014.

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