Afghanistan: Taliban resume fighting as Eid ceasefire ends

Taliban announce they will resume fighting on Monday as the three-day ceasefire on Eid-al-Fitr comes to an end.

Taliban Afghanistan
Taliban fighters shook hands with Afghan soldiers in Herat during the ceasefire [Jalil Rezayee/Reuters]

On the final day of a three-day Eid al-Fitr ceasefire, the Taliban said they would resume fighting, despite President Ashraf Ghani’s announcement that the government was extending its own ceasefire with the group by 10 days.

In the statement on Sunday, the Taliban repeated their preconditions for peace talks, including that they would only negotiate directly with the US and that foreign forces should leave Afghanistan.

“Our fighters will now resume their operations across the country against the foreign invaders and their internal puppets,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Al Jazeera.

In an unexpected move, Ghani on June 5 announced an unconditional ceasefire with the Taliban until June 20, coinciding with the end of Ramadan.

On June 9, the Taliban announced that their fighters would stop attacking Afghan security forces for the three days of Eid for the first time in the nearly 17-year conflict.

Hundreds of soldiers and police officers have been killed since the Taliban launched their spring offensive in April this year in a bid to control large swaths of the country.

‘Extreme happiness’

The first day of the ceasefire on Friday started with Taliban, civilians and officials offering Eid prayers together in mosques across the country.

Pictures and videos emerged on social media later that day of Afghans celebrating Eid with men identified by them as Taliban fighters.

“It was a moment of extreme happiness for us that we got to celebrate Eid this way – without any fear,” Zahid Khan, a resident of Jalalabad told Al Jazeera.

The celebrations were cut short with a first attack claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) on Saturday that killed at least 30 people and wounded more than 65 in Nangarhar province.

The second attack, a suicide bombing in Jalalabad on Sunday, close to the governor’s office in Nangarhar province, killed at least 18 people. No group immediately claimed responsibility.

Wounded men were carried to a hospital after a car bombing in Jalalabad on June 17 [Parwiz/Reuters]
Wounded men were carried to a hospital after a car bombing in Jalalabad on June 17 [Parwiz/Reuters]

“On the day of Eid when everyone came together, an attack by ISIL made many people cry for their lost ones,” Nikzad, a Kabul resident told Al Jazeera.

“Peace is not easy to achieve in this country.”

‘Support and welcome of Taliban’

The Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told Al Jazeera that the three-day ceasefire across the country proves that the group is “unified and trustworthy”.

“The way our fighters were welcomed by the people proves that our demands and the nation’s are identical – all want the withdrawal of foreign invaders and establishment of an Islamic government,” he said.

Mujahid also stressed that no talks were taking place with the government.

However, Zahid Khan, the Jalalabad resident said he just wants peace across the country. 

“Enough of bloodshed and tears, when peace is possible, we should sustain it,” he said.

Source: Al Jazeera