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Taliban take at least 100 hostages despite Afghan president’s Eid ceasefire call

A council chief in Kunduz province said the insurgents stopped three buses on the road near Khan Abad district and abducted the passengers.

The Taliban have taken more than 100 people, including women and children, hostage in an ambush in the north Afghanistan, officials have said.

This comes despite President Ashraf Ghani’s call for a ceasefire with the Taliban during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Mohammad Yusouf Ayubi, the head of the provincial council in Kunduz province, said the insurgents stopped three buses on the road near Khan Abad district on Monday and abducted the passengers.

Mr Ayubi believes the Taliban were looking for government employees or members of the security forces.

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

There was no comment from the Taliban but the area of the incident is under Taliban control.

President Ghani made the ceasefire announcement on Sunday during celebrations of the 99th anniversary of Afghanistan’s independence.

“The ceasefire should be observed from both sides, and its continuation and duration also depend on the Taliban’s stand,” he stressed.

He added that should the Taliban agree, it would be observed over Monday and Tuesday, the Eid holidays.

He said he hoped extensions could also be agreed upon to make it last until November 20, which will mark the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad.

The government had previously announced a ceasefire with the Taliban during the Eid al-Fitr holiday in June. The Taliban accepted that three-day ceasefire, but later rejected a call by the president to extend it.

President Ghani’s call came just a day after the leader of the Afghan Taliban said there would be no peace in Afghanistan as long as the “foreign occupation” continues, reiterating the group’s position that the country’s 17-year war can only be brought to an end through direct talks with the United States.

In a message released on the occasion of the Eid al-Adha holiday, Maulvi Haibatullah Akhunzadah said on Saturday that the group remained committed to “Islamic goals”, the sovereignty of Afghanistan and ending the war.

The Taliban have resurged in recent years, seizing districts across the country and regularly carrying out large-scale attacks.

Earlier this month, they launched a major assault on the city of Ghazni, just 75 miles from Kabul. Afghan security forces battled the militants inside the city for five days, as the US carried out air strikes and sent advisers to help ground forces.

The battle for Ghazni killed at least 100 members of the Afghan security forces and 35 civilians, according to Afghan officials.

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