Peace convoy calls on Afghan govt, Taliban to extend ceasefire

Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai was shot by militants in 2012 as she sat on a school bus and championed girls education

Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai was shot by militants in 2012 as she sat on a school bus and championed girls education

At least 16 others were wounded in the attack in Rodat district in eastern Nangarhar province, provincial governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP.

In honor of Eid, the Afghan Taliban announced a three-day truce - except against foreign forces - to coincide with the Afghan government's 10-day ceasefire for Eid.

He said most of the dead and wounded were believed to be Taliban.

Ghani declared a unilateral a weeklong ceasefire last week, and the Taliban agreed to honour it during the three-day Eid period that ends Sunday.

Mujahid made no mention of President Ashraf Ghani's announcement on Saturday extending the government's eight-day ceasefire with the Taliban that was due to end on Tuesday, and his call for the Taliban to do the same.

Nangarhar provincial Police Chief Ghulam Sanayee Stanikzai said the devastating explosion came as previously unthinkable scenes of unarmed Taliban fighters celebrating Eid, often alongside Afghan security forces, played out in cities throughout the war-shattered country on Friday and again on Saturday.

A day earlier, Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide blast that killed at least 35 people on the outskirts of Jalalabad.

In scenes that would have seemed impossible just a few days ago, members of the Afghan Taliban have been embracing Afghan security forces amid a three-day ceasefire called to mark the Muslim holiday Eid.

In some districts of the eastern city of Jalalabad, civilians were offering dry fruit, traditional candies and ice cream to Taliban militants.

Atta-ul-Rahman Salim, deputy head of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, said Taliban fighters from across the country were reportedly entering into government controlled areas to visit their families "and they were being welcomed by government security forces".

The announcement has raised concern among some Afghans over the number of Taliban who have taken advantage of the ceasefire to enter cities around the country, including the capital Kabul, and may still be there when the truce ends.

Ghani's extension of the ceasefire drew immediate worldwide support and calls for the Taliban to reciprocate.

President Ashraf Ghani said in an address to the nation he would extend the ceasefire with the Taliban but failed to give a time-frame.

Fazlullah had directed numerous high-profile attacks against the U.S. and Pakistani targets since he was appointed the group's leader in 2013, including the December 2014 attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar that killed 151 people, including more than 130 children.

However, the group banned its fighters from attending public gatherings, going into cities, and meeting with the Afghan public, as well as officials and security forces, during the cease-fire, according to a statement by the militants.

In the meantime, the U.S. embassy said in a statement that the United States extends its best wishes to the people of Afghanistan in celebration of Eid al-Fitr.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, "This is a unique opportunity for the Taliban to show they want the peaceful future that the Afghan people demand and deserve".

There was no immediate word from the Taliban on whether they would observe the extension.

"The U.S.is prepared to support, facilitate and participate in these discussions", he added.

The Afghan leader also requested the militant group halt hostilities but the Taliban said fighting would resume. They would, however, continue attacking US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops.

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