16 killed as Afghan Taliban launch attacks after ceasefire

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Kabul, June 18 (IANS) At least 16 people were killed on Monday as the Afghan Taliban resumed attacks after refusing to extend a three-day ceasefire that ended on Sunday night, police said.

Taliban militants launched early morning attacks on security checkpoints in Ghormach, Qaisar, Pashtunkot and Shirin Tagab districts in the Faryab province, a police officer was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.

Afghanistan’s Defence Ministry spokesperson Muhammad Radmanish said that even though the government decided on Sunday to extend the ceasefire by another 10 days, the “Taliban violated the ceasefire and launched attacks”.

Twelve Army personnel were “martyred” since the Taliban began their attacks, Radmanish said. Two policemen were also killed, Interior Ministry spokesperson Najib Danish told Efe news.

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The governor of Ghani-Khil district in Nangarhar and his bodyguard were shot dead in a morning ambush in which a civilian was wounded, another police official said.

The government had announced a ceasefire from June 12 to June 19 to encourage the Taliban to support the national reconciliation process. Reciprocating the step, the armed group announced truce from Friday to the end of Sunday.

On Sunday, an Afghan Security Council meeting chaired by President Ashraf Ghani extended the ceasefire for another 10 days. However, the Taliban refused to extend the truce and instead in an online statement asked its fighters to resume fighting against Afghan and foreign forces stationed in Afghanistan.

It said that earlier the ceasefire was announced for the wellbeing of the nation and for providing secure environment for Afghans to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr.

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Taliban spokesperson Qari Yusuf Ahmadi claimed in a tweet that “26 security forces members were killed in the provinces of Helmand, Badghis and Ghazni”.

Afghanistan is going through one of its bloodiest phases since the end of NATO’s combat mission in January 2015.

–IANS

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