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Central & South Asia

Pakistani Taliban announces month-long truce

Armed group says it will halt attacks during ceasefire period to allow resumption of failed peace talks with government.

Last updated: 01 Mar 2014 17:37
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Negotiations broke down when a rebel faction announced last month that it had killed 23 Pakistani troops [Reuters]

Pakistani Taliban has announced a month-long ceasefire in an attempt to allow the resumption of stalled peace talks with the government, a spokesperson of the armed group said in an emailed statement to Al Jazeera.

"So on the appeal of dignitaries, respect for the Taliban negotiation committee, and bearing in mind the wider interest of Islam and the country - Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) announces a month-long ceasefire," Shahidullah Shahid said on Saturday.

"To fix the breakdown and for lasting ceasefire, the government committee has responded positively to our suggestions. And we've been assured that actions will be taken to implement those suggestions," he said.

The group said that "it had instructed all its regional groups not to carry out attacks" during the period.

One of the regional groups, TTP Mohmand chapter, says it will abide by the ceasefire announcement.

A statement from Omar Khurasani of the group, that is against peace talks, said he was not happy with the way government agencies were killing Taliban captives, but respected the central TTP leadership decision.

Last month Islamabad began peace talks with the Taliban on how to end a seven-year armed rebellion which has cost thousands of lives.

Government welcomes

Irfan Sadiqui, the leader of the government's negotiating team, praised the ceasefire announcement while speaking on local Geo Television, saying the government will review any written document from the Taliban about it, according to AP news agency.

"Today, we are seeing a big breakthrough," Sadiqui said.

The announcement comes as Pakistan jets and helicopters struck fighter hideouts in the northwest in recent weeks after previous efforts at negotiations broke down when a rebel faction announced it had killed 23 Pakistani troops.

Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from the capital, Islamabad, said that the (Taliban's) policy changed after the government said it would go after the headquarters of the group if it came under attack.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif long has promoted negotiations over military operations as a way to end the ongoing crisis. His efforts gained speed this year when both sides announced negotiating teams held initial meetings.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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