Taliban Resumes Attacks on Afghan Forces as Ceasefire Ends

Second suicide attack in 2 days in Afghanistan's Jalalabad kills 18 injures 49

18 killed 49 injured in Afghanistan suicide attack | Reuters image for representation

On Saturday, an "Islamic State" (IS) vehicle bomb killed at least 36 people and wounded 65 at a gathering of Taliban and government fighters.

The Taliban said their ceasefire had been to enable ordinary Afghans to enjoy a peaceful Eid, and not to please the government.

People attend the funeral of the victims who were killed a day earlier in a suicide bomb attack in Rodat district.

Later the terror group said in its Amaq website the attack on Saturday targeted "a gathering of Afghan forces" in Nangarhar, but gave no details.

Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor, told Anadolu Agency the suicide attacker blew his explosives in the Pashtunistan Square, close to the national broadcaster, RTA, in downtown Jalalabad, the provincial capital, in the afternoon, killing 10 people.

Civilians, security forces and Taliban members were among the casualties as people celebrated the second day of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The Taliban had agreed to the temporary ceasefire to allow its fighters to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

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Meanwhile, the Taliban has formally announced its three-day ceasefire will end Sunday night and vowed to resume battlefield attacks from Monday morning against US -led foreign forces.

Afghanistan's government has extended ceasefire with the Taliban following an initial truce observed by both sides over the Eid period.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid reacted to the attacks with a statement Sunday that banned the group's fighters from public gatherings, for fear that could risk harm to civilians.

In February 2018, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani first raised the possibility of a ceasefire with the Taliban and said the government was open to recognising the Taliban as a political party in an agreement. The Alliance still maintains a presence to train Afghan forces there. He said Afghan forces remain in "stand-by mode" to defend against attacks during the government's continued halt on offensive operations against the Taliban.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed Ghani's speech, saying peace negotiations would require a discussion of what role "international actors and forces" play in Afghanistan.

In Kabul itself, dozens of unarmed Taliban fighters entered to celebrate the unprecedented ceasefire. In the western province of Herat, the police chief met Taliban officials for a conversation.

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. They have recaptured large parts of the country following large withdrawals of foreign troops in recent years.

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