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Afghan forces kill 10 Taliban after truce takes effect

11 June 2018

The Taliban have announced a ceasefire in Afghanistan over the Eid al-Fitr holiday for the first time since 2001.

For the festival, Taliban fighters "are instructed to stop their offensive operations against domestic opposition", the militant group's statement said, referring to Afghan forces.

The Afghan government hopes that the Taliban will respond positively to the demands of the people and clergy in Afghanistan and focus on putting an end to the war in the country, Shah Hossein Mortazavi said.

As many as 30,000 Afghan police officers fighting a bloody war against the Taliban have been denied their modest salaries for months, officials said on Wednesday, as the American-led coalition funding the force holds back their pay out of fear that much of it is going into the hands of corrupt leaders.

But it added that 'if the mujahideen are attacked we will strongly defend (ourselves)'.

The United States intends to step up military operations against the militant Islamic State group in eastern Afghanistan during a temporary ceasefire between the Afghan government and the Taliban, senior U.S. officials said on Friday.The Islamic State group has developed a stronghold in Nangarhar, on the porous eastern border with Pakistan and is among the countrys most risky militants since it appeared around 2015.

The government announced a unilateral ceasefire earlier this week.

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The clerics were themselves targeted in a suicide attack claimed by IS, which killed 14 people at the entrance to their peace tent in Kabul.

"We welcome the three days ceasefire announced by the Taliban starting on the first day of Eid".

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mojahid claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement to media.

The Islamist insurgency has inflicted heavy casualties on Afghan forces since launching its spring offensive in April and reportedly killed around 500 personnel last month.

There was no immediate response to the Taliban's statement from the US military, which has a dual mission to support Afghan troops against the Taliban and, separately, conduct counterterrorism operations against extremists associated with the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

Laurel Miller, who served as a senior US official for Afghanistan and Pakistan under both Obama and Trump, said that while any action to reduce violence was positive, the differing terms and timelines for the two parties' cease-fires made the current circumstance a fragile one.

"This will continue and in fact will be intensified during the period of ceasefire", General John Nicholson, who commands United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Afghanistan, told reporters. He first spoke about the possibility of a cease-fire with the militant Islamic group in February as part of a potential agreement where the government would be willing to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate political party. He added that eight Taliban attackers were killed and more than a dozen others were wounded during the gun battle.

Afghan forces kill 10 Taliban after truce takes effect