Afghanistan Taliban declares three-day ceasefire

Photo taken on May 20, 2020 shows weapons handed over by Taliban militants during a surrender ceremony in Pul-e-Khumri, capital of Baghlan province, Afghanistan. Fifteen Taliban militants surrendered and handed over their weapons in Afghanistan's northern province of Baghlan on Wednesday. (Photo by Sahel/Xinhua) . (Credit Image: © Sahel/Xinhua via ZUMA Wire)

The Taliban declared a three-day Eid ceasefire starting on Sunday, a spokesman for the hard-line Islamist group wrote in a tweet on Saturday, a move that comes as fighting has intensified between the warring sides despite the coronavirus pandemic.

“Do not carry out any offensive operations against the enemy anywhere, if any action is taken against you by the enemy, defend yourself,” tweeted spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, adding that the ceasefire was declared solely for Eid festivities.

Afghanistan’s government has not yet indicated whether it will observe the ceasefire.

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed the announcement in a statement and said he expects the Afghan government and the Taliban leadership “not to escalate violence after Eid.”

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Last month, the Taliban rejected a government call for a ceasefire across Afghanistan for the holy month of Ramadan, saying a truce was “not rational” as they ramped up attacks on Afghan forces.

Click to play video: 'Pompeo says Afghan violence must stop for peace process to move forward'
Pompeo says Afghan violence must stop for peace process to move forward

At least 146 civilians were killed and 430 wounded by the Taliban during Ramadan, Javid Faisal, a spokesman for the country’s main intelligence and security office in Kabul, said on Saturday.

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