Afghan Taliban reject President Ghani’s ceasefire proposal
The Taliban militant group has rejected an Afghan government offer of a three-month ceasefire, saying it would continue with its attacks to bring under control the country's strategic regions.
Speaking on condition of anonymity on Monday, two senior Taliban commanders said their leader had rejected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's offer of a 90-day ceasefire beginning with this week's Muslim celebration of Eid al-Adha or the feast of sacrifice.
Declining to provide further details, the commanders said the ceasefire would only help US forces and serve the interests of the US-led mission in Afghanistan.
Our leadership feels that they'll prolong their stay in Afghanistan if we announced a ceasefire now, one of the senior commanders told Reuters on the telephone.
In June, the militant group observed a government ceasefire for the three-day Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan. The ceasefire, the first in more than 15 years, ended after the Taliban rejected the government's offer to extend it beyond three days.
'Most Taliban hostages freed in rescue operation'
Meanwhile, government forces have rescued 149 people, including children, who were abducted by the Taliban in the northern province of Kunduz.
Some 170 Afghan civilians and 20 members of security forces were abducted by the Taliban earlier on Monday.
Esmatullah Muradi, a spokesman for the Kunduz governor, said the kidnapping took place when the passengers on board three buses were heading from the northeastern province of Takhar to the capital Kabul.
The buses were stopped by the Taliban, passengers were forced to step down and they have been taken to an undisclosed location, he said.
Sayed Assadullah Sadat, a Kunduz provincial council member, said the Afghans were traveling to reunite with their families in Kabul during the Eid al-Adha holiday.
Nasrat Rahimi, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said the rescue operation was carried out by Afghan security forces and left at least seven Taliban militants dead.
The remaining 21 abductees are said to be members of Afghan security forces, who were reportedly the main target of the Taliban's Monday ambush.
A spokesman for the provincial governor in Kunduz also confirmed the rescue of the hostages and said the operation was still underway.
The development comes in the wake of fighting in the central city of Ghazni, a strategically important region the Taliban have been battling to bring under control.
At least 150 Afghan soldiers and 95 civilians were killed in a five-day siege that eased last week, when Afghan troops pushed back the heavily armed militants.
The Taliban were ousted from power in 2001 following a US-led invasion. The group has, however, been involved in widespread militancy, killing thousands of civilians as well as Afghan and US forces.
Source: Press TV