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News ID: 90245
Publish Date : 16 May 2021 - 21:38
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KANDAHAR (Dispatches) – Fighting between the Taliban and Afghan government forces resumed Sunday in the restive southern province of Helmand, officials said, ending a three-day ceasefire agreed by the warring sides to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday.
There were clashes on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand, which has recently seen intense fighting, an Afghan military spokesman and a local official said.
"The fighting started early today and is still ongoing,” Attaullah Afghan, head of the Helmand provincial council, told AFP on Sunday.
He said Taliban militants attacked security checkpoints on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah and other districts.
An Afghan army spokesman in the south confirmed fighting had resumed.
"They (Afghan forces) started the operation... do not put the blame on us,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP.
The three-day truce initiated by the Taliban and swiftly agreed to by the Afghan government had largely held during the Eid holidays that ended on Saturday.
The calm was broken on Friday by a blast at a mosque on the outskirts of the Afghan capital, which killed 12 people including the imam leading Friday prayers.
Daesh claimed it carried out Friday’s attack on the mosque, Site Intelligence Group reported.
The explosion happened inside a mosque in Shakar Darah district of Kabul province during Friday prayers.
The truce was only the fourth agreed pause in fighting in during two-decades-long occupation of the country by the U.S.
All foreign troops were supposed to have been withdrawn by May 1 as part of an agreement the U.S. had reached with the Taliban in Doha last year. However, President Joe Biden pushed that date back to September 11, angering the Taliban.  
According to the Ministry of Defense, at least 40 people were killed and wounded on Saturday in separate Taliban attacks in nearly ten provinces despite the ceasefire.
The latest bout of unrest comes despite a meeting between representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha on Friday.
Delegates from the two sides "discussed the ongoing situation of the country and emphasized speeding up the peace talks in Doha,” the Afghan government delegation said in a tweet on Saturday.
The spokesman for the Taliban’s political office, Mohammad Naeem, also posted a tweet, saying, "Both sides agreed to continue the negotiations even after Eid,” referring to the Eid al-Fitr holiday.
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