Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Taliban and Afghans hug and take selfies during unprecedented ceasefire

Taliban and Afghans hug and take selfies during unprecedented ceasefire Taliban and Afghans hug and take selfies during unprecedented ceasefire
Steven Clarke | 17 June, 2018, 08:31

"A suicide bomber detonated among people, security forces and Taliban who were celebrating the ceasefire", Khogyani told AFP earlier.

A vehicle bomb killed at least 26 people at a gathering of Taliban and Afghan armed forces in the eastern city of Nangarhar on Saturday.

The IS-affiliated news agency Amaq said the extremist group had claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Taliban said they were not behind the attack, BBC News reported. It overlaps with an Afghan government cease-fire which was due to end on Wednesday before the Afghan president extended the truce. The Taliban urged people to come forward and pose for the camera.

Atta-ul-Rahman Salim, deputy head of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, said Taliban fighters from across the country were entering government-controlled areas to visit their families "and they were being welcomed by government security forces".

Afghan government has said it will continue operations against other insurgent groups, including Daesh, and only Taliban are part of the ceasefire. "This can not happen unless America leaves (Afghanistan)", he said. "I saw Taliban and police standing side by side and taking selfies".

There were also rare scenes of impromptu diplomacy as the interior minister, Wais Barmak, met Taliban members on the outskirts of the capital and district governors broke bread with their Taliban "shadow" counterparts over lunch.

The Afghan president said the Taliban can now receive normal assistance and benefits like all civilians.

Dozens of Taliban militants entered the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Saturday as a ceasefire between the government and militants held for a second day.

The Taliban's leader, Haibatullah Akhunzada, on Monday separately announced a three-day truce to mark the Eid holiday.

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"I could not believe my eyes", said Kunduz resident Mohammad Amir.

At a crowded outdoor gathering in Paktia province, an unidentified civilian was shown weeping as he hugged a turbaned Taliban fighter and pleaded with him to stop the war.

Carrying assault weapons and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, members of Afghanistan's biggest militant group traveled by vehicle and motorbike through the contested district of Bati Kot in Nangarhar province, waving Afghan and Taliban flags.

Insurgents were pictured playing alongside children and eating food together.

Pakistan's caretaker Prime Minister Nasir-ul-Mulk described the killing of Pakistan Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah in a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan as a "significant development in the fight against terrorism".

In his conversation with Mr. Ghani, Mr. Mulk said that Fazlullah's death would be received throughout Pakistan with relief as Pakistanis had borne the brunt of terrorist attacks by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, which Fazlullah headed.

The Taliban are fighting US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces, combined under the Resolute Support mission, and the US-backed government to restore sharia, or Islamic law, after their ouster by US-led forces in 2001.

Prior to that, unarmed Taliban fighters were waving Afghan and Taliban flags while driving into Afghanistan's cities.

"Our country is being destroyed and we have all become beggars".

There was no immediate Taliban reply to Ghani's latest offer of an extension.

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