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News Story
Updated: 06/18/2018 01:19:01AM

Taliban resumes attacks in Afghanistan after 3-day cease-fire

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Taliban fighters ride in their vehicle in Surkhroad district of Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, June 16, 2018. A suicide bomber blew himself up in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday as mostly Taliban fighters gathered to celebrate a three-day cease fire marking the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr, killing 21 people and wounding another 41, said the Nangarhar provincial Police Chief Ghulam Sanayee Stanikzai. Most of the dead and wounded were believed to be Taliban, he said. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gal)

Taliban fighters greet residences in Surkhroad district of Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, June 16, 2018. A suicide bomber blew himself up in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday as mostly Taliban fighters gathered to celebrate a three-day cease fire marking the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr, killing 21 people and wounding another 41, said the Nangarhar provincial Police Chief Ghulam Sanayee Stanikzai. Most of the dead and wounded were believed to be Taliban, he said. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gal)

Residences take picture with a Taliban fighter in Surkhroad district of Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, June 16, 2018. A suicide bomber blew himself up in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday as mostly Taliban fighters gathered to celebrate a three-day cease fire marking the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr, killing 21 people and wounding another 41, said the Nangarhar provincial Police Chief Ghulam Sanayee Stanikzai. Most of the dead and wounded were believed to be Taliban, he said. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gal)

A Taliban fighter poses for a picture in Surkhroad district of Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, June 16, 2018. A suicide bomber blew himself up in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday as mostly Taliban fighters gathered to celebrate a three-day cease fire marking the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr, killing 21 people and wounding another 41, said the Nangarhar provincial Police Chief Ghulam Sanayee Stanikzai. Most of the dead and wounded were believed to be Taliban, he said. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gal)

Civil society activists hold written slogans to protest the presence of armed Taliban fighters in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, June 17, 2018. A suicide bomber struck Sunday in Afghanistan's eastern city of Jalalabad, killing at least 18 people in the second attack in as many days targeting Taliban fighters, security forces and civilians celebrating a holiday cease-fire. Persian writing reads, "We forgive, but never forget, No to secret peace talks, No to Taliban's military presence in Kabul." (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)

By Mohammad Jawad

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KABUL, Afghanistan — Hopes for an extension after three days of holiday cease-fire between Taliban forces and the Afghan government ended Sunday when Taliban forces resumed attacks.

The Taliban attacked in the Afghan provinces of Helmand and Kandahar as night fell. Although the Taliban had said it would not prolong the cease-fire, despite government offers, some observers expected the Taliban to wait until Monday before launching new attacks.

Afghan security forces were targeted in the attacks, broadcaster 1TV and news agency Pajhwok reported.

Millions of Afghans celebrated the cease-fire and Eid al-Fitr over the weekend as surreal scenes of brotherhood unfolded between Taliban militants and government officials.

The cease-fire was the first since the group’s fall from power in 2001. In doing so, they had agreed to briefly halt their offensives against the Afghan government — what the militants consider a “puppet regime.”

The Taliban and the government kept their pledges not to fight. In the western province of Herat, the police chief met Taliban officials for a friendly conversation. In Kabul and other cities, fighters with black turbans rode the streets on motorbikes, stopping for photos and conversations with residents.

The display of fraternity between Taliban and government officials was interrupted over the weekend with two attacks in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province in which at least 55 people were killed and 115 others injured.

At least 19 people were killed Sunday when a suicide bomber targeted a gathering of about 1,000 people supporting the cease-fire in the Nangarhar capital of Jalalabad. At least 50 others were also injured, said Attaullah Khugyani, a spokesman for Nangarhar’s governor.

Taliban fighters, security forces and civilians were also targeted during cease-fire celebrations Saturday in Nangarhar’s Rodat district. At least 36 people were killed and 65 others were injured there when a suicide bomber attacked their gathering.

No one claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack, but Islamic State said it carried out the Saturday attack in Rodat. The group, which is hostile to the Taliban, has a main base in Nangarhar and apparently wanted to sabotage the successful peace initiative to conclude the fasting month of Ramadan.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid reacted to the attacks with a statement Sunday that banned the group’s fighters from public gatherings, for fear that could risk harm to civilians. Defense Ministry spokesman General Mohammad Radmanish said the group’s fighters were still celebrating in cities throughout the country.

The Taliban’s leader, in an Eid message, repeated the Taliban’s demand for talks with the United States, which leads the NATO’s military mission in Afghanistan.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offered an extension of the cease-fire Saturday beyond the Eid holiday, with Afghan security forces halting all offensives against the Taliban.

Ghani also requested that the Taliban extend their cease-fire, during which the Afghan government would provide medical assistance to wounded Taliban fighters and allow family visits for militant prisoners.


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