Afghan soldiers, Taliban exchange hugs, make selfies on Eid after unprecedented ceasefire

Afghan soldiers, Taliban exchange hugs, make selfies on Eid after unprecedented ceasefire

A Taliban fighter on a motorbike carrying the Afghan and Taliban flags welcomed the ceasefire, but said long-lasting peace would only be achieved if United States forces left the country.

"The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan announces ceasefire from the 27th of Ramadan until the fifth day of Eid-ul-Fitr following the historic ruling [Fatwa] of the Afghan Ulema", Ghani said. So far the group has not responded.

"I order the security forces to remain on their defensive positions", Ghani said, adding details of the extension would be released later.

The government´s ceasefire was due to end Tuesday.

In Kabul's Koti Sangi area security forces however arrested a Taliban member who was carrying a weapon. In some districts of the eastern city of Jalalabad, civilians were offering dry fruit, traditional candies and ice cream to Taliban militants.

Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor of Nangarhar, confirmed a vehicle bomb was responsible for the attack in the town of Ghazi Aminullah Khan, on the main Torkham-Jalalabad road.

Previously Islamic State fighters have clashed with the Taliban who have rejected their demands for a caliphate.

US forces targeted Fazlullah in a counterterrorism strike on Thursday in eastern Kunar province, close to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, US officials said, without confirming his death.

Photos circulating on social media show armed Afghan police forces standing in line at the corner of the street hugging Taliban terrorists one by one. They were unarmed and were met with greetings and hugs by civilians and soldiers as the war-torn county is seeing an unprecedented ceasefire for the Eid holiday.

Such scenes would have been unthinkable only a few days ago.

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Resident Mohammad Amir said he saw the Taliban casually entering the city of Kunduz.

The Taliban are fighting USA -led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces, combined under the Resolute Support mission, and the US -backed government to restore Shariah, or Islamic law, after their ouster by US -led forces in 2001.

"We are all just so exhausted of war", he said.

Within hours of the explosion President Ashraf Ghani announced he would extend the government's ceasefire and he called on the Taliban to do the same.

The Taliban said they were not behind the attack, BBC News reported.

Despite President Ghani's offer in February for peace talks "without preconditions", the Taliban have shown no interest, dismissing the peace overtures as a "conspiracy".

The US commander of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Afghanistan General John Nicholson said recently that the Taliban was engaged in a process of "talking and fighting", and that some factions were involved in secret peace negotiations.

"We want the infidels to leave our country and the Afghan forces such as army, police and public protection forces make peace with us", Hamza, a Taliban member said.

The Taliban had "exploited" the opportunity to show their popularity among ordinary Afghans, a Western diplomat in Kabul told AFP.

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