Afghan truce begins ahead of talks

KABUL (AFP) – Afghans offered prayers marking the Muslim festival of Aidiladha yesterday as a three-day ceasefire between Taleban and government forces began, with many hoping the truce will lead to peace talks and the end of nearly two decades of conflict.

A car bomb that killed at least 17 people in the country’s east just hours before the ceasefire started underlined the scale of the challenge that lies ahead, although the Taleban denied any involvement.

The halt in fighting is slated to last for the duration of Aidiladha and is only the third official truce in nearly 19 years of war.

“We want a permanent ceasefire from the Taleban as they are the ones who paved the way for other terrorist groups to operate in Afghanistan,” Mohammad Tahir, a taxi driver, told AFP.

As the ceasefire commenced, hundreds of worshippers went to mosques across the capital where they were patted down by armed guards before going inside.

There were no immediate reports of any fighting in the country.

President Ashraf Ghani and the Taleban have both signalled that peace talks could begin straight after Aidiladha, and there are widespread calls for the warring parties to extend the ceasefire.