Kabul (AFP) – Afghanistan announced Thursday a week-long ceasefire with the Taliban for Eid, the holiday that caps off Ramadan, though operations against other groups including Islamic State will continue.
The ceasefire will last “from the 27th of Ramadan until the fifth day of Eid-al-Fitr,” President Ashraf Ghani tweeted from an official account, indicating it could run from June 12-19.
It was not immediately clear if the Taliban had agreed to the ceasefire. A spokesman for the militants told AFP they were “checking with our officials” regarding the announcement.
The surprise move comes days after a gathering of Afghanistan’s top clerics in the capital Kabul issued a fatwa against suicide bombings and attacks.
An hour after the fatwa was issued, a suicide bomb was detonated outside the gathering, killing seven people.
Ghani said his government supported the clerics’ call.
“The government of Afghanistan not only supports the unanimous fatwa announcement by the ulemas (scholars), but also backs the recommended ceasefire,” he said in a statement released by his office.
“(At) the same time, the Afghan government directs all the security and defence forces of the country… to stop all the attacks on the Taliban, but the operation will continue against Daesh (Islamic State), Al-Qaeda and other international terrorist networks.”
In February Ghani unveiled a plan to open peace talks with the Taliban, including eventually recognising them as a political party.
The insurgents did not officially respond, but announced the launch of their annual spring offensive in an apparent rejection of the plan, one of the most comprehensive ever offered by the Afghan government.