Afghanistan has struck its first ceasefire with the Taliban in a remote province before a presidential election next month,the government said on Monday,but the truce lasted only hours before clashes broke out.
With the election to be held against a backdrop of increasing violence,the governments announcement of a deal came just before Britain urged Kabul to offer a way out for the foot soldiers of the insurgency and bring peace to Afghanistan.
The deal in northwestern Badghis province,near the border with Turkmenistan,came amid an escalation of violence ahead of the August 20 presidential poll,with attacks against civilians and death tolls for US and other NATO troops at record levels. The truce in Badghis was reached on Saturday,presidential spokesman Seyamak Herawi said,and the government wanted to make similar deals with the Taliban in other parts of the country in a bid to improve security for the election. As long as the ceasefire holds,the government does not have the intention to attack the Taliban (in Badghis). And the Taliban can also take part in the elections, Herawi said.
However Afghanistans Interior Ministry said several hours later enemies of peace and stability a term often used to describe Taliban insurgents had ambushed police in Badghis. Two insurgents were killed and two police wounded,it said.
Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf earlier said there was no ceasefire with the government anywhere in Afghanistan. The resistance against the enemy continues unabated. The government has made this up, Yousuf told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location. I spoke with the mujahideen (Taliban) there about it and they denied it.
NATO spokesman James Appathurai said any kind of truce arrangement was a matter between the Afghan government and other actors and it was very important credible elections are held. If there is any such arrangement that would allow this to happen,then that would be a good thing, Appathurai said by telephone from Brussels.