Auto bomb kills at least 17 in Afghanistan ahead of ceasefire

Elias Hubbard
August 1, 2020

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has welcomed the announcement by the Afghanistan government and the Taliban of a ceasefire to enable the Afghan people to celebrate Eid al-Adha in peace.

The explosion came on the eve of a ceasefire declared by the Taliban during the festival of Eid.

At least 17 people were killed in a auto bomb explosion in an Afghan city on Thursday as crowds shopped for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, officials and a medic said. The Taliban claimed they were not responsible for the clash.

The ceasefire, announced by the Taliban, comes at a time when violence has risen across the war-torn country as US-brokered peace talks between the armed group and an Afghan government-mandated committee await the completion of a prisoner exchange between the two sides. But that date passed amid political disarray in Kabul and disagreements over the prisoner exchange, with Afghan authorities saying some of the released Taliban inmates were returning to the battlefield. In a speech, Mr. Ghani said another 500 prisoners will be released in a bid to "accelerate the peace talks".

The Taliban, who have insisted on the release of those 400 militants, did not immediately comment.

Just months after the USA signed a controversial deal with the Taliban to end the long-running war in Afghanistan - predicated on the notion that the insurgent group would not offer safe haven to Al Qaeda - local officials worry that terrorists still reign in parts of the country.

The deal also stated the Taliban and the Afghan government should start direct peace talks on March 10, following the completion of the prisoner swap.

The contentious prisoner swap is a key precondition for the Taliban to enter into peace talks with the government for the first time in their 19-year insurgency and the halt in fighting is only the third official truce in almost the two decades.

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

Other reports by Click Lancashire

Discuss This Article