Afghan police killed in Taliban attack on base

In another bid to push the Taliban towards a peaceful resolution to the Afghan conflict, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday announced an unconditional ceasefire with the militant group. Earlier, they had issued an "Op-ed" on their website criticising the fatwa, and calling it an effort "to legitimise the illegal occupation [of the U.S.]" "The fatwa declared by the Peace Council under the name of the Ulema is full of ignorance and distortion", it read, adding that jihad is also obligatory against "their domestic supporters and puppets", referring to the Afghan government and the U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

On Friday, senior US officials said they will intensify combat against the Islamic State affiliate in the country during the Kabul government's temporary halt to attacks on the Taliban.

It is the first time in almost 17 years that the militants have declared a cessation of violence, albeit a limited one, since the government it ran was toppled by the 2001 US-led invasion.

The Foreign Office (FO) issued a statement after the Taliban announced temporary ceasefire for days around Eid. "We wanted them to be confident that we also won't do any operations".

The United States intends to step up military operations against the militant Islamic State group in eastern Afghanistan during a temporary ceasefire between the Afghan government and the Taliban, senior U.S. officials said on Friday.The Islamic State group has developed a stronghold in Nangarhar, on the porous eastern border with Pakistan and is among the countrys most risky militants since it appeared around 2015.

"Our operations will continue against them, we will attack them wherever we see them", it said.

Last month, the Pentagon said that senior Taliban officials have been secretly negotiating with Afghan officials on a possible ceasefire.

Despite the increasing intensity of conflict in Kabul and around the country, Afghans remain hopeful that the ceasefire will bring much needed relief in an otherwise intensifying war.

Earlier this week, the USA military said it would observe the government cease-fire with the Taliban while continuing its activities against the Islamic State.

Officials from the U.S. -NATO coalition hope the move will push Kabul into expediting the process of verifying the identities of ANDSF troops through biometric data.

The Trump administration has increased the number of US troops in Afghanistan in an effort to give local forces, which continue to struggle despite more than a decade and a half of outside support, a battlefield advantage.

No one immediately claimed the attack in Kot district, but both the Taliban and IS are active in eastern Afghanistan, especially in Nangarhar.

While the Taliban announced it would halt attacks in response to Ghani's truce offer, it considers his government to be illegitimate and has said it would only hold peace talks with the United States. Mattis spoke to reporters during a break in a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defence ministers meeting.

In the meantime, Taliban insurgents have continued to carry out attacks against Afghan forces.

In recent years, a resurgent Taliban has taken control of significant swaths of the country and terrorized citizens and foreigners alike.

Farhad said at least 13 others were wounded in the attack.

Qureshi said eight militants were killed and nine wounded in the clashes.

  • Rogelio Becker