Afghan president extends ceasefire with Taliban by 10 days
KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s office on Sunday extended a unilateral ceasefire with Taliban militants, due to end on Wednesday June 20, by 10 days.
“Afghan security forces can defend themselves against any attack,” Durani Waziri, spokeswoman for the presidential palace, told Reuters.
Members of parliament opposing Ghani’s move said he had not consulted politicians and would be left with no recourse if the Taliban rejected his impromptu request.
A senior Western diplomat in Kabul said Ghani’s decision was “a bold move” but questioned what happens if the Taliban do not extend their unprecedented halt in hostilities against government forces.
“The consequences could be disastrous,” he said.
The Taliban said their members were expected to leave government-controlled areas before sunset.
A suicide bombing in Jalalabad, close to the governor’s office in Nangarhar province, killed at least 18 people on Sunday and wounded scores, an official and doctor said.
No group immediately claimed responsibility.
A car bomb killed 36 people at a gathering of Taliban and Afghan armed forces in the same province on Saturday. Islamic State, not covered by the government ceasefire, claimed responsibility for that attack.