At least 15 dead in Afghanistan as Taliban announces Eid ceasefire




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At least 15 people, mainly civilians, were killed in Afghanistan on Monday, the same day Taliban militants announced a nationwide three-day truce for the upcoming Muslim Eid holidays.

The holidays are due to start either on Wednesday or Thursday, but the latest violence which officials blamed on the Taliban cast a pall over the news any short-lived reduction in violence.

All Taliban fighters are instructed to cease offensive operations across the country from the first to the third day Eid-el Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan, a Taliban statement published late on Sunday read.

The holiday is set to begin on Wednesday or Thursday, depending on the sighting the new moon.

Taliban fighters were prohibited from visiting government-controlled areas or giving enemy personnel access to areas controlled by the Islamists.

A response from the government in Kabul was still pending.

The Taliban had declared ceasefires to mark the end of Ramadan in the past.

There have been growing concerns about the security situation in Afghanistan since May 1, the date international troops officially began their withdrawal.

The process was due to be completed by Sept. 11, at the latest.

Highlighting the dangers, at least 11 civilians were killed after a roadside bomb hit a passenger bus in Zabul province, in the south, the Interior Ministry said on Monday.

Another 28 passengers were wounded in the explosion, which happened around midnight.

Meanwhile, in the northern province of Parwan, two people were killed in an explosion targeted a minibus with 25 passengers onboard, according to a provincial police spokesperson and a local politician.

Nearly a dozen people were wounded in the bombing.

And in western Farah province, militants detonated an explosive-packed armoured vehicle near an army checkpoint just a few kilometres away from the provincial city centre, several officials confirmed.

There were conflicting reports about the casualty figures.

Provincial governor Taj Mohammad Jahid told dpa two were killed and five others were wounded in a checkpoint manned with at least 15 soldiers.

However, provincial councillor Shah Mahmoud Naimi said the bodies of six were found under the rubble and four others have been taken captive, with the fate of the remaining force unclear.

The government officials blamed the Taliban for the incidents.

(dpa/NAN)