Taliban Reject Ceasefire Offer During Ramadan

Afghan security personnel gather at the site of a 2019 car-bomb attack in Kabul. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AFP) — The Taliban have dismissed a government call for a Ramadan ceasefire in Afghanistan, saying a truce is “not rational” as they ramp up attacks on government forces.

President Ashraf Ghani appealed to the Taliban to lay down their arms for the Islamic holy month that began Friday, as the country battles the growing coronavirus pandemic.  

But Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen tweeted late Thursday to lambast the government’s offer, citing  disagreements over a potential peace process and a delayed prisoner exchange as reasons to keep fighting.

“Asking for ceasefire is not rational and convincing,” Shaheen wrote as he accused the government of putting prisoners’ lives at risk during the outbreak.

Under a U.S.-Taliban deal signed this year, in which the Afghan government did not participate, the government and Taliban were by now supposed to have concluded a prisoner swap and started talks to bring about a comprehensive ceasefire.

The latest round of bickering comes after dozens of Afghan security forces personnel were killed in a fresh wave of violence launched by the Taliban this week.

The attacks have mostly been limited to rural areas and small towns. Under the U.S.-Taliban deal, the Taliban have agreed not to attack cities.

American and other foreign forces have pledged to quit Afghanistan by July 2021 provided the Taliban stick to several security guarantees and hold talks with the government.

Ghani has been calling for a lasting ceasefire with the Taliban for years, only to be ignored by the increasingly emboldened fighters.

The Taliban have mocked Ghani’s government, referring to them as puppets controlled by foreign powers, and have roundly refused to engage in peace talks as they intensify attacks on Afghan forces.

© Agence France-Presse

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