Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced a ceasefire with Taliban insurgents from Monday to mark the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, days after fighting in the central city of Ghazni and a northern province.
Taliban sources said their leaders had also provisionally agreed a four-day truce during the annual Islamic feast of sacrifice, though supreme leader Sheikh Haibatullah Akhunzada still had to give his final approval. The militant movement said it would free hundreds of prisoners, without going into further details.
United Nations said blasts, suicide attacks and clashes killed more than 1,600 civilians in the first six months of the year, the highest number in the past decade.
In June this year, Ghani announced an unconditional ceasefire with the Taliban for about two weeks. The Taliban observed a ceasefire over the three-day Eid al-Fitr festival but rejected the government’s request to extend it.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed the ceasefire and said the United States was ready to support and facilitate direct peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. “It is time for peace,” he said in a statement.
Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, tweeted that he encouraged the Taliban “to demonstrate their concern for Afghans by respecting (the ceasefire)”.