Afghanistan announces Eid holiday ceasefire with Taliban

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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has announced a ceasefire with Taliban insurgents starting from Monday to mark the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday.

This comes days after fighting in the central city of Ghazni and a northern province.

Taliban sources said their leaders had also provisionally agreed a four-day truce during the annual Islamic feast of sacrifice, though supreme leader Sheikh Haibatullah Akhunzada still had to give his final approval.

The militant movement said it would free hundreds of prisoners, without going into further details.

Fighting has been mounting in the Taliban’s insurgency against the government in Kabul and NATO coalition forces- which was launched after the Islamist group was ousted from power in a U.S.-led military intervention in 2001.

The truce announcement came a day after clashes erupted in the northern province of Faryab, an interior ministry official said. The Taliban had taken control of part of Bulcheragh district and more than 50 government forces were missing, he added.

This month at least 150 soldiers and 95 civilians were killed in a five-day battle for control of Ghazni. Afghan soldiers backed by U.S. forces managed to push back the heavily armed rebels last week.

Earlier on Sunday, the United Nations said blasts, suicide attacks and clashes killed more than 1,600 civilians in the first six months of the year, the highest number in the past decade.