Taliban enter Afghan capital to mark Eid ceasefire, hugs and selfies elsewhere


KABUL, June 16: Dozens of unarmed Taliban militants entered the Afghan capital on Saturday to celebrate an unprecedented ceasefire marking the end of the Ramadan fasting season, police said, as elsewhere soldiers and militants exchanged hugs and selfies.
The Taliban announced a surprise three-day ceasefire over the Eid holiday, which began on Friday, except against foreign forces. It overlaps with an Afghan government ceasefire which lasts until Wednesday.
The Taliban entered Kabul through gates in the south and southeast.
“They are unarmed as they handed over their weapons at the entrances,” Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai told Reuters. Their weapons will be returned to them when they leave, he said.
Video and pictures on news websites showed cheerful soldiers and Taliban hugging one another and exchanging Eid greetings in Logar province, south of Kabul, and Zabul in the south and central Maidan Wardak. Some people were dancing and clapping as onlookers took photos with their smartphones.
Channel 1 TV tweeted a picture of a lone Talib waving the group’s flag from a Kabul bridge.
Afghan deputy interior minister Masood Azizi said the ceasefire was being monitored throughout the country.
“Luckily there have been no attacks,” he told Reuters.
Governors in Helmand, Kandahar and Zabul said both sides had adhered to the ceasefire and that there had been no reports of violence for 24 hours.
Members of rights groups organised a brief meeting between Afghan forces and Taliban insurgents in Helmand’s capital city. Laskargah, where the Taliban have delivered a series of blows to government forces this year. (Agencies)