Afghan government ends ceasefire with Taliban, resumes offensive

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Kabul, June 30 (IANS) Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced an end to his government’s unilateral ceasefire with the Taliban on Saturday and ordered the security forces to resume their anti-militancy operations.

“The ceasefire has ended and our security and defence forces are allowed to continue operations. Now, it is up to the Taliban’s decision, whether they want to join the peace process or keep on killing in the country,” Ghani told reporters at a press conference here.

In efforts to encourage the Taliban militants to support the national reconciliation process, the President had announced a seven-day ceasefire on June 12 and the Taliban outfit in response announced a three-day truce, allowing Afghans to have peaceful days on Eid-ul-Fitr.

Later, Ghani extended the government ceasefire for another 10 days, requesting the Taliban outfit to follow suit. However, the militants refused to extend and instead began attacking security forces elsewhere in the war-battered country.

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The extension of truce by Ghani was widely welcomed by Afghans and people from all walks of life called upon Taliban militants to reciprocate the offer.

However, Zabihullah Majahid who claims to speak for the Taliban outfit, in contact with media rejected the offer and said that the insurgent outfit would continue the “jihad” or holy war against the Afghan government and foreign forces stationed in Afghanistan.

Ghani, however, on Saturday, called upon the Taliban militants to respect the demand of Afghans for peace and initiate dialogue for returning lasting peace in the country.

The President had also made an offer of dialogue with the militant group in February without success.

–IANS

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