Afghan forces killed as gov’t urges Taliban to extend ceasefire

At least 14 members of the Afghan army have been killed in a Taliban attack as the Afghan government said the Eid ceasefire was not over yet.

The Ministry of Defence said on Friday members of the Afghan army were killed in the province of Paktiya. Three others were also wounded in the attack that was also confirmed by the Taliban.

A day earlier, the Taliban killed at least 14 people from the security forces in northern Parwan and western Farah provinces.

Afghanistan’s National Security Adviser (NSA) spokesperson Javid Faisal nevertheless wrote in a tweet on Friday that the “detente” which started during the Eid holiday, marking the end of Ramadan, was continuing.

“The ceasefire is not over yet; there have been violations because it is a complicated technical process that requires good coordination between both sides,” Faisal said.

Earlier, Faisal had urged the Taliban to extend the three-day ceasefire, which came into effect on Sunday to mark the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr.

“It is important to extend the ceasefire and, to avoid bloodshed, the Afghan government is ready to extend it,” the NSA spokesman told a news conference on Tuesday.

Despite the violence, a prisoner swap crucial to the start of peace talks between the warring sides in Afghanistan has continued.

Taliban delegation in Kabul

The Taliban, which launched an armed rebellion after it was toppled from power by a US-led invasion in 2001, has remained silent on government appeals for an extension of the ceasefire.

Meanwhile, a five-member Taliban delegation arrived in Kabul on Thursday to work with a government team on the release of prisoners on both sides, spokesmen for both sides said on Twitter.

A US-Taliban agreement signed in February in Qatar’s capital, Doha, stipulated that the Afghan government would release up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners while the Taliban would free about 1,000 Afghan security forces personnel.

But the prisoner swap has been delayed as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani refused to release all 5,000 Taliban prisoners at once. So far, Kabul has freed about 3,000 Taliban inmates, while the armed group had released about 300 Afghan security forces it held captive.

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