Afghan forces rescue 149 hostages taken by Taliban in bus ambush It’s time to end America’s war in Afghanistan | Mike Fuchs

Afghan forces have rescued 149 people, including children, who were abducted by the hours earlier in the northern Kunduz province.

After launching the lightning military operation on Monday morning, fighting was still under way to free the 21 remaining hostages, officials said.

Taliban fighters had ambushed a convoy of three buses travelling on a road in the Khan Abad district, according to Nasrat Rahimi, the deputy spokesman for the interior ministry.

Afghan security forces had freed 149 hostages and at least seven Taliban fighters had been killed in the fighting, he said.

The ambush came despite President Ashraf Ghani’s with the Taliban during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha this week. The Taliban have increased their assaults in recent months, seizing entire districts and regularly carrying out large-scale bombings and attacks that have killed scores of people.

Esmatullah Muradi, a spokesman for the provincial governor in Kunduz, also confirmed the rescue of the hostages. According to Mohammad Yusouf Ayubi, the head of the provincial council in Kunduz, the Taliban were probably looking for government employees or members of the security forces, who usually go home for the holidays.

All the passengers on the buses were from Badakhshan and Takhar provinces and were travelling to the capital, Kabul, said Abdul Rahman Aqtash, Takhar’s police chief.

Ghani’s call for the truce, made on Sunday during celebrations of the 99th anniversary of Afghanistan’s independence, said “the ceasefire should be observed from both sides, and its continuation and duration also depend on the Taliban’s stand”.

On Saturday, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, Maulvi Haibatullah Akhunzadah, said there would be no peace in the country as long as the foreign occupation continued. He reiterated the group’s position that the country’s 17-year war could only be ended through direct talks with the US.

In a message released for Eid al-Adha, and without mentioning any ceasefire, Akhunzadah said the insurgents remained committed to Islamic goals, the sovereignty of and ending the war.

It’s time to end America’s war in Afghanistan | Mike Fuchs

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Ghani said he hoped extensions could also be agreed upon to make the ceasefire last until 20 November, which will mark the birth of the prophet Muhammad.

The government and Taliban agreed to a ceasefire during the Eid al-Fitr holiday in June but the Taliban later rejected a call by the president to extend it.

This month, the Taliban launched a , the capital of Ghazni province. Afghan forces battled the militants inside the city for five days, as the US carried out airstrikes and sent advisers to help the Afghan ground forces.

The battle for Ghazni killed at least 100 members of the Afghan security forces and 35 civilians, according to officials. The heavy casualties underscore the challenges the government in Kabul faces since the US and Nato officially finished their combat mission at the end of 2014. Since then, US forces, now in a training and advisory role, have repeatedly come to the aid of Afghan forces.

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Source : theguardian[dot]com