Days ahead of the Muslim religious holiday Eid-ul-Fitr, Taliban insurgents have said that they would observe a three-day ceasefire in Afghanistan, starting this week, after weeks of increasing violence that gripped the country.
“In order that the Mujahideen again provide a peaceful and secure atmosphere to our compatriots during Eid-ul-Fitr so that they may celebrate this joyous occasion, all Mujahideen … are instructed to halt all offensive operations,” Mohammad Naeem, a Taliban spokesperson, said on Twitter.
The ceasefire declaration came two days after bombings outside a school in the western part of the Afghan capital, Kabul, killed at least 68, most of them students, and injured more than 165 others. However, no group claimed responsibility for the attack.
Taliban insurgents, fighting to overthrow the Afghan government since their ouster by U.S.-led forces in late 2001, denied involvement in the bombings and condemned them but the Afghan government leadership has said that the group was behind the attack.
Naeem said the group’s fighters had been instructed to cease all military operations against the Afghan government, but added they were ready to retaliate if attacked by government forces.
Fraidoon Khwazoon, a spokesperson for Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, which heads the peace process, said the group welcomed the Taliban’s ceasefire announcement, international media reported.
Kabul has been on high alert since Washington announced plans last month to pull out all U.S. troops by September 11, with Afghan officials saying the Taliban stepped up attacks across the country following the announcement.