Taliban has reportedly rejected the call for ceasefire during Eid Al-Adha

Afghan President Offers Taliban Conditional Three-Month Cease-Fire

Afghan President Offers Taliban Conditional Three-Month Cease-Fire

Abdul Rahman Aqtash, the police chief in neighbouring Takhar province, said the passengers were from Badakhshan and Takhar provinces and were traveling to the capital, Kabul.

Esmatullah Muradi, a spokesman for the governor of Kunduz, told NBC News that more than 160 passengers aboard the vehicles were initially captured. The Taliban didn't immediately react and its spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahed, didn't respond to calls seeking comment. However, the Taliban said it had chosen to release the vast majority of the hostages.

The operation was a boost for Afghan forces, which have struggled to contain a resurgent Taliban on battlefields across the country.

Speaking during a gathering to mark the 99th Independence Day of Afghanistan, President Ghani said the government announces ceasefire with the Taliban, starting from Monday until Eid Milad un Nabi (Birth of Prophet Mohammad), on the condition that the Taliban group also announces a ceasefire.

Rahimi said that after Afghan security forces freed 149, the insurgents were still holding 21 hostages from the buses.

The proposal: Beginning Monday, Afghanistan would honor a three-month truce with the Taliban to celebrate the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, "provided that the Taliban reciprocate".

The confusion comes just two months after a similarly messy exchange between Ghani and the Taliban, in which the Afghan president extended a unilateral cease-fire on the occasion of another holiday, Eid al-Fitr.

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Afghan security forces had been battling the Taliban in Faryab province's Bulcheragh district for a week, before about 100 government employees - mostly police officers - surrendered to the insurgents, provincial council leader Tahir Rahmani told Stars and Stripes.

"Our leadership feels that they'll prolong their stay in Afghanistan if we announced a ceasefire now", a senior Taliban commander, who declined to be identified, said by telephone.

Calling for the truce on Sunday, Ghani said "the ceasefire should be observed from both sides, and its continuation and duration also depend on the Taliban's stand".

The Taliban have stepped up their assaults in recent months, seizing entire districts across Afghanistan and regularly carrying out large-scale bombings and attacks that have killed scores of people.

On Saturday, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, Maulvi Haibatullah Akhunzadah, said that there will be no peace in the country as long as the "foreign occupation" continues. The Taliban accepted that three-day cease-fire, but later rejected a call by the president to extend it. "It is our hope, and that of the global community, that the Afghan people may celebrate Eid al-Adha this year in peace, free from fear", the statement added.

The Western-backed government in Kabul has been struggling to fend off the Taliban and other militant groups since the withdrawal of most North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops in 2014.

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