Taliban reject Afghan ceasefire
Kidnap nearly 200 bus passengers
Reuters, Kabul :
The Taliban rejected on Monday an Afghan government offer of a ceasefire and they would persist with their attacks, two militant commanders said, while insurgents ambushed three buses and nearly 200 passengers travelling for a holiday.
The two Taliban commanders said their supreme leader rejected President Ashraf Ghani's Sunday offer of a three-month ceasefire, beginning with this week's Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday.
In June, the Taliban observed a government ceasefire over the three-day Eid al-Fitr festival, leading to unprecedented scenes of government soldiers and militants embracing on front lines, and raising hopes for talks.
But one of the Taliban commanders said the June ceasefire had only helped U.S. forces, who the Taliban are trying to drive out of the country, and Taliban leader Sheikh Haibatullah Akhunzada rejected the new offer on the grounds it would only
help the U.S.-led mission.
"Our leadership feels that they'll prolong their stay in Afghanistan if we announced a ceasefire now," a senior Taliban commander, who declined to be identified, said by telephone.
An official in Ghani's office said the three-month-long ceasefire declared by the government was conditional, and if the Taliban did not respect it, the government would maintain military operations.
The Taliban have launched a wave of attacks in different parts of the country in recent weeks, including on the city of Ghazni, southwest of Kabul. Hundreds of people have been killed in the fighting.