Taliban announces end of partial truce days after signing deal with US

A motorcycle bomb attack in eastern Afghanistan killed three and injured 11 as the Taliban announced an end to a partial truce Monday after earlier agreeing to a weeklong “reduction of violence” before signing a peace agreement with the U.S., although U.S. officials said they had not yet determined who was responsible for the attack.

The truce expired Saturday, but U.S. officials had hoped for an agreement to prolong it, with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani committing to extend the agreement until at least March 10, the day talks between the militant group and the Afghan government are set to begin, The Guardian reported.

“The reduction in violence ... has ended now and our operations will continue as normal,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the Agence France Press. “As per the [U.S.-Taliban] agreement, our mujahideen will not attack foreign forces but our operations will continue against the Kabul administration forces.”

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The end of the truce follows Ghani publicly contradicting the U.S. on the release of 5,000 prisoners included in the deal, with a spokesman for Ghani saying the Afghan government “has not made any commitment to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners before the start of any potential negotiations.”

“The reduction in violence was a confidence builder. We’re very serious about our obligations and we expect the Taliban will be serious about their obligations,” Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement. “The United States has been very clear about our expectations — the violence must remain low.”

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said Monday that it remained unclear who was responsible for the attack.

“The Taliban is not a monolithic group. There are multiple terrorist organizations operating ... so we don’t know exactly who did that yet,” Milley said Monday.

“Secondly, I would caution everybody that there’s going to be an absolute cessation of violence in Afghanistan ... it’s not going to go to zero,” he added.