Will Resume Ops Against Afghan Forces: Taliban Post US Peace Deal

“The reduction in violence... has ended now and our operations will continue as normal,” a Taliban spokesman said.

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World
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US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, left, and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban group’s top political leader shake hands after signing a peace agreement between Taliban and US officials in Doha, Qatar, on 29 February.
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The Taliban said on Monday, 2 March, that they were resuming offensive operations against Afghan security forces, ending the partial truce that preceded the signing of a deal between the insurgents and Washington.

The declaration comes only a day after President Ashraf Ghani said he would continue the partial truce at least until talks between Afghan officials and the Taliban kick-off, supposedly on 10 March.

It ran for one week ahead of the signing of the historic accord in Doha on Saturday, and continued over the weekend.

“The reduction in violence... has ended now and our operations will continue as normal,” Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP.

“As per the (US-Taliban) agreement, our mujahideen will not attack foreign forces but our operations will continue against the Kabul administration forces,” he added.

Since the deal signing on Saturday, the Taliban have been publicly celebrating their “victory” over the US.

Under the terms of the deal, foreign forces will quit Afghanistan within 14 months, subject to Taliban security guarantees and a pledge by the insurgents to hold talks with the Kabul government.

The dramatic reduction in attacks due to last week's partial truce between the Taliban, US and Afghan forces offered Afghans a rare opportunity to go about their daily lives without fear of violence.

Ghani warned the insurgents on Monday that he was not committed to a key clause in the Doha deal involving the release of thousands of Taliban prisoners.

3 Killed, 11 Injured in Blast in East Afghanistan: Police

Meanwhile, a bombing at a football match killed three people and injured 11 others on Monday in eastern Afghanistan, a police official told AFP.

“A motorcycle rigged with a bomb exploded during a football match,” said Sayed Ahmad Babazai, police chief of eastern Khost province, giving details of the toll.

Abdul Fatah Wakman, president of the Khost Football Federation, told AFP that the three people killed were brothers.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

US Says Not Expecting Immediate Halt to Afghan Violence

The US's top general on Monday cautioned not to expect an immediate halt to violence in Afghanistan, after three people were killed in the bombing.

“We don't know exactly who did that yet,” said General Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, two days after the United States signed a peace deal with the Taliban.

“The Taliban is not a monolithic group, there's multiple terrorist organisations operating,” he said.

“I would caution everybody (not) to think there’s going to be an absolute cessation of violence in Afghanistan... To think that it is going to go to zero, immediately -- that’s probably not going to be the case,” he told reporters.

Defence Secretary Mark Esper said the US, while expecting a “bumpy” path ahead, would adhere to the spirit of the agreement signed in Doha on Saturday and begin reducing US troops in Afghanistan quickly.

“Our expectation is that the reduction in violence would continue. It would taper off until we get inter-Afghan negotiations which would ultimately consummate in a ceasefire,” Esper said.

“This is going to be a long, windy bumpy road, there will be ups and downs, and we'll stop and start,” he said.

“We are just going to deal with each situation as it arises and make sure we stay focused on the mission.”

(Published in an arrangement with PTI.)

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