Taliban holds passengers after Afghan bus attacks

Clay Curtis
August 20, 2018

In a message released Saturday in honor of the upcoming holiday, Taliban leader Maulvi Haibatullah Akhunzadah said there would be no peace in Afghanistan as long as the "foreign occupation" continues and reiterated that the group will only negotiate directly with the United States, which it blames for the 17-year war.

The incident comes despite President Ashraf Ghani's call for a cease-fire with the Taliban during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

The president, however, linked the ceasefire with similar announcement from the Taliban side and added sustainability of the truce belonged to the Taliban commitment.

He said none of them were government employees or members of Afghanistan's security forces.

The official said Taliban members stopped three buses traveling from Badakhshan and Takhar to the capital Kabul early Monday morning and abducted roughly 150 passengers.

The truce announcement came a day after clashes erupted in the northern province of Faryab, an interior ministry official said.

"We should not be begging for peace with the Taliban".

"Now it is up to the Taliban to make this best ever opportunity for peace & security in Afghanistan", tweeted analyst M. Shafiq Hamdam.

Afghan President Offers Taliban Conditional Three-Month Cease-Fire

It spurred hopes that a new path was opening for possible peace talks in the country to the end the almost 17-year-old war, but violence has surged in the weeks since.

But violence has surged in the weeks since as talk of a new ceasefire continued. Hundreds of people have been killed in the fighting.

That battle coincided with attacks on government installations across the country. Analysts have suggested the Taliban were seeking to demonstrate strength ahead of any possible talks.

He said the ceasefire would only be implemented if the Taliban respect it.

A USA delegation led by the country's top South Asia diplomat, Alice Wells, held talks on Afghan peace and confidence-building measures with the group in Doha last month. he insurgents also met recently with senior Uzbekistan officials last week to discuss Afghan peace and energy needs.

Kabul-based analyst Haroon Mir said the move might be perceived as an act of desperation by the government following mounting battlefield pressure from insurgents.

Washington has repeatedly refused, saying negotiations must be Afghan-led.

Rahimi said the rescue operation had killed at least seven Taliban fighters before the militants fled the scene.

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