A three-day ceasefire agreed to between the Afghan government and the Taliban ended on Sunday night, with most reports indicating there was no fighting between the two parties. The Afghan government even appealed to the Taliban to extend the ceasefire, a hopeful sign as intra-Afghan talks are expected to start as agreed to under the US-Taliban peace deal.
Both Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Taliban officials have indicated talks will begin after the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, the holiday the ceasefire was observed for. “We hope the Taliban will not resume violence. The Afghan government’s actions and steps taken in the peace process must be reciprocated by the Taliban,” a spokesman for President Ghani told AFP.
Intra-Afghan talks were set to start in March, but they were delayed after issues with a prisoner exchange agreed to in the peace deal. Under the agreement, the Afghan government needs to release 5,000 Taliban inmates. It looks like that aspect of the deal is just about complete, the government released 317 Taliban since the Eid ceasefire began, bringing the total of freed prisoners to 4,917.
Some Afghan officials claim the Taliban violated the ceasefire but overall the Kabul government seems satisfied. This does not mean there was no violence over the weekend, with other militants being active.
On Sunday, an attack on a prison in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad resulted in at least three deaths with more than 20 wounded. The assault started with a car bomb blast, and a gun battle between the attackers and Afghan security forces ensued. The onslaught was claimed by ISIS and came one day after Afghan special forces said they killed an ISIS commander in the same region.