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Afghan president announces cease-fire with Taliban

August 20. 2018 12:48AM

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced a temporary cease-fire with the Taliban to begin with the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha.

The cessation in fighting would begin Monday and last three months if the insurgent group reciprocates, Ghani said on Twitter Sunday. The Taliban didn't immediately react and its spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed didn't respond to calls seeking comment.

The last cease-fire took place for three days in June to unprecedented scenes of Taliban militants hugging Afghan security forces in some cities.

"We call on the leadership of the Taliban to welcome the wishes of Afghans for a long lasting and real peace, and we urge them to get ready for peace talks based on Islamic values and principles," Ghani said. "The Afghan government has removed all obstacles for a long-lasting peace through these unprecedented steps."

Another cease-fire would raise hopes of an eventual breakthrough in negotiations to end the 17-year-conflict and America's longest war.

Muslims begin annual haj pilgrimage amid heavy rains

As more than 2 million pilgrims from around the world braved stormy weather in Saudi Arabia on Sunday to begin the annual haj ritual, the country’s health minister said there was no sign of any outbreaks of disease.

Worshippers arrived in the kingdom last week for the five-day ritual - a once-in-a-lifetime religious duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it, which retraces the route Prophet Mohammad took 14 centuries ago.

Several hours of heavy rain and thunderstorms forced pilgrims to take cover in tents and trudge through puddles, with civil defense warning of possible flooding throughout the evening but denying any adverse effects on the rituals.

Some pilgrims prayed at the Grand Mosque before heading to the Mina area or towards Mount Arafat, east of Mecca, where the Prophet is believed to have delivered his final sermon to followers.

Survivor: 19 killed by Islamists in northeast Nigeria

At least 19 people were killed in an Islamist militant attack on a village in northeast Nigeria in the early hours of Sunday, a survivor of the attack said.

The strike is the latest blow to Nigeria’s efforts to defeat insurgencies by the Nigerian Islamist Boko Haram group and Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) insurgencies. In recent months the military has suffered its heaviest defeats in years, commanders have been repeatedly replaced, and special forces soldiers have mutinied.

The militants attacked the village of Mailari in the Guzamala region of Borno state at around 2 a.m., according to the survivor, Abatcha Umar.

He said he had not been able to tell whether they belonged to Boko Haram or to ISWA.

From Wire Reports

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