The Taliban killed at least 19 Afghan police officers and wounded several others in a pre-dawn raid Saturday, just hours before the group announced an unprecedented ceasefire.
The Islamic extremist group stormed a base in the northern province of Kunduz, according to AFP. The deadly firefight comes on the heels of another attack on a military base in the western province of Herat, where Taliban forces killed 17 Afghan soldiers. In recent weeks, the Taliban have launched several deadly assaults on Afghan forces.
The Afghan police managed to kill eight Taliban fighters during the early morning battle in Kunduz, Enhamuddin Rahmani, spokesman for the provincial police, revealed.
A few hours after the attack, the Afghan Taliban announced a surprise three-day ceasefire, the first since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The temporary truce will go into effect for the Muslim Eid holiday. The ceasefire is between the Afghan government and the Taliban and does not include foreign forces. The Taliban asserts it has the right to defend itself if attacked, Reuters reports.
The unexpected move, hailed by some Afghan officials as an “important step towards prospects for peace,” follows a unilateral ceasefire declaration by the Afghan national government. (RELATED: Afghan President Pitches Cease-Fire Agreement To Taliban During Ramadan)
The national government’s ceasefire will be in effect “from the 27th of Ramadan until the fifth day of Eid-al-Fitr” (June 12 until the end of Ramadan on June 20), the Afghan president tweeted from an official account Thursday. The Afghan government is briefly putting hostilities with the Taliban on hold, but no similar agreement has been made with other regional extremist groups, such as the Islamic State.
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