At least 13 killed in two bus bombings across Afghanistan as Taliban announces three-day Eid ceasefire

At least 13 people were killed and almost 40 were injured overnight in two bus bombings in Afghanistan. The attacks came shortly after the Taliban announced a three-day ceasefire for the Eid al-Fitr holiday later this week.

A passenger bus was hit by a roadside bomb in the southern Afghan province of Zabul overnight, the provincial governor’s spokesman, Gul Islam Sial, said on Monday. The attack left at least 11 people dead and some 28 injured, including women and children.

In a separate incident, a minibus was hit by a blast just north of the capital, Kabul. The explosion killed two people and injured nine, the country’s Interior Ministry said.
No militant group has claimed responsibility for either of the attacks yet.

The deadly blasts came shortly after the main adversary of the Afghan government, the Taliban, announced a three-day ceasefire for the upcoming Eid al-Fitr religious holiday. The Eid celebrations, which mark the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, are expected to begin on Wednesday or Thursday, depending on the appearance of the crescent moon.

“All Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate are instructed to halt all offensive operations against the enemy countrywide from the first till the third day of Eid. But if the enemy conducts any assault or attack against you during these days, stand ready to robustly protect and defend yourselves and your territory,” the Taliban said in a statement.

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In recent weeks, Afghanistan has seen an uptick in violence, with terrorist attacks taking place on an almost daily basis, and fighting between government forces and the Taliban intensifying.

One of the deadliest incidents in recent weeks occurred on Saturday, when unknown assailants attacked a Kabul school, detonating at least three bombs as pupils were leaving the facility. At least 68 people were killed by the blasts and more than 160 injured, with the vast majority of the victims being female students.

While the Afghan government was quick to blame the Taliban for the incident, the group strongly denied its involvement, condemning the school attack and pointing a finger at the Islamic State terrorist group instead.

The spike in violence follows the announcement by US President Joe Biden, who pledged to withdraw American combat troops from the country by September 11, after two decades of deployment. The announcement has been criticized by the Taliban, which urged Washington to stick to the May 1 deadline agreed under then-President Donald Trump instead.

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FILE PHOTO: Afghan Taliban militants and residents stand on a armoured Humvee vehicle of the Afghan National Army (ANA) as they celebrate a ceasefire, Kandahar, Afghanistan, June 17, 2018 © AFP / Javed Tanveer
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