Afghanistan’s Ghani announces ceasefire with Taliban

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Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, has announced an unconditional ceasefire with the Taliban, coinciding with the end of the Muslim fasting month. The ceasefire excludes other militant groups, such as Islamic State. The decision follows a meeting of Islamic clerics where a fatwa, or ruling, against suicide bombings was declared.

A recent bombing, claimed by Islamic State, killed 14 people at the entrance to the clerics’ peace tent in Kabul.

The clerics also recommended a ceasefire with the Taliban, who are seeking to reimpose strict Islamic law after their ouster in 2001, and Ghani endorsed the recommendation, announcing a laying down of arms until June 20.

Ghani has urged ceasefires with the Taliban before, but this was the first unconditional offer since he was elected in 2014.

There was no immediate reaction from the Taliban but an international political analyst based in Kabul was unimpressed.

US Forces-Afghanistan said they would honor the ceasefire, but that would not include US counter-terrorism efforts against Islamic State and al Qaeda.

A NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was “really not too much to say” from NATO’s point of view. “It is completely Afghan-originated and, as you know, it is our policy to support an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process,” he told reporters.