Eid truce between Afghan army and Taliban marred by deadly blast

Eid truce between Afghan army and Taliban marred by deadly blast

Dozens of Taliban militants entered the Afghan capital and other cities on Saturday to celebrate the end of the Ramadan fasting month.

The unilateral ceasefire by President Ashraf Ghani was announced on June 7 after a meeting of religions scholars in Kabul who issued a fatwa against the ongoing war in the country.

Afghans took part in morning prayers to celebrate Eid-al-Fitr.

The Afghan Government made the first concession by declaring a week-long ceasefire leading up to Eid, and the Taliban responded by declaring a three-day cessation of hostilities at the end of Ramadan.

The United Nations joined North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the United States in welcoming the ceasefires.

In the meantime, the U.S. embassy said in a statement that the United States extends its best wishes to the people of Afghanistan in celebration of Eid al-Fitr. An attack on Saturday disturbed the peace, leaving dozens of casualties.

Provincial police spokesman Shahpur Ahmadzai told The Associated Press that the Taliban were unarmed and no one was allowed into the city with weapons. Soldiers and militants exchanged hugs and took selfies on their smartphones.

"I'm so happy for the cease fire in Afghanistan, and I am hoping peace forever".

Taliban on motorbikes shake hands with people in Kabul during the ceasefire.

"I am here to offer greetings to our brothers in the police and army", Taliban commander Baba told AFP.

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.

At Arghandi Gate, a gate entering Kabul city, Taliban handed in their weapons to security forces before entering the city. The president seemed deeply moved by the outpouring of public support for the truce and said the atmosphere was "totally changed" from the past.

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"We are all just so exhausted of war", he said.

Traffic jams formed in the capital Kabul, where people stopped to take pictures of the fighters, who in turn urged people to join them in selfies.

A spokesman with the Afghan Defense Ministry told RFE/RL that Afghan security forces and Taliban members had exchanged Eid greetings in Ghazni, Logar, Farah, and other provinces.

The militants announced a surprise three-day ceasefire over the Eid-al-Fitr holiday, which began on Friday, except against foreign forces.

"Around 700 Taliban have come to Qalat city".

The government also released a number of Taliban militants from jail. "Our country is being destroyed and we have all become beggars".

The group's Amaq news agency said the target was "a gathering of Afghan forces" but gave no details. "I offered an Afghan soldier breakfast with me", said Mullah Hanif Shah, a 30-year-old subcommander in Zabul province.

TOLOnews journalist Ziar Yaad reported from the area and said the Taliban arrived with their white flag and celebrated Eid with the security forces and people. They were all Taliban. "We were warmly welcomed in by everyone".

The unusual bonhomie between the two sides also came as Ghani confirmed that Pakistani Taliban chief Maulana Fazlullah had been killed in a United States drone strike. They said they would continue attacking US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops.

But as Mr Ghani was making his address, a suicide vehicle bomber blew himself up in a crowd of Taliban, security forces and civilians celebrating the ceasefire. "All the brothers have come together", a Kunduz resident said.

In another video, a white-turbaned fighter was shown holding two plastic roses while a row of government soldiers posed for photos nearby, some of them also holding flowers.

"We are feeling that these days are golden days for us, it is so peaceful", said Majid.

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