Kabul, May 13 (IANS) A three-day ceasefire started on Thursday in Afghanistan as people celebrate the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan with the Eid-al-Fitr festival.
Last week, the Taliban militant group announced a three-day nationwide ceasefire, dpa news agency reported.
In reaction to the Taliban offer, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also ordered government security forces to respect the ceasefire.
The government also asked the Taliban for a permanent ceasefire, repeating previous requests.
The provincial councilor for embattled northern Kunduz province said that the residents of the province were happy with the ceasefire as they can celebrate Eid without any threats.
It was the same in the embattled south-eastern province of Ghazni, where the residents have started celebrating Eid peacefully, local councilor Hamiddullah Nawruz said.
The province had witnessed heavy fighting in recent days between the government and militant forces, particularly those from the Taliban.
But the problems of the fighting intruded even in places like southern Helmand province, where there haven’t been many clashes, but where many of those present have either been displaced by fighting elsewhere, have lost a loved one or are nursing a family member wounded by the fighting, local councilor Mir Ahmad Khan said.
This is not the first time the Taliban have offered such a ceasefire.
The first three-day calm came in June 2018, the first the armed group had offered since their government was toppled by the US-led invasion in 2001.
During the days before this year’s ceasefire, intense fighting was reported in several provinces.
The Taliban have intensified attacks on provincial capitals, districts, bases, and checkpoints since international troops began to officially withdraw on May 1.
The security forces have tried to repel these attacks, but two districts have already fallen to the Islamists.
Observers fear the recent attacks are just the beginning of the Taliban’s annual offensive. This could increase after the withdrawal of US and NATO troops is complete.
According to official figures, around 10,000 US and NATO soldiers were still in the country at the beginning of May.
These are now set to withdraw by September 11.
The US military said on Tuesday that it estimates around 6 to 12 per cent of the entire withdrawal process had been completed.