Taliban announce Eid Al-Adha ceasefire in Afghanistan

Members of the Taliban stand at the site of the execution of three men in Ghazni province, Afghanistan. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 28 July 2020

Taliban announce Eid Al-Adha ceasefire in Afghanistan

  • Spokesman said if Taliban fighters come under attack from government forces, they will retaliate

KABUL: Afghanistan's Taliban militants announced on Tuesday that they will observe a three-day ceasefire for the Muslim religious holiday of Eid Al-Adha, starting Friday, offering some respite from weeks of increasing violence.

Disagreements over a prisoner exchange and the violence have delayed peace talks between an Afghan government-mandated committee and the Taliban, as envisaged in an agreement signed between the US and the group in Doha in February.

“In order for our people to spend the three days of Eid in confidence and happiness, all fighters are instructed not to carry out any operations,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted.

However, he added that if Taliban fighters come under attack from government forces, they will retaliate.

The Afghan president’s spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, said the government welcomed the ceasefire announcement but added that Afghans wanted enduring peace and the start of direct peace negotiations.

Since the US-Taliban agreement, 3,560 Afghan security forces personnel have been killed in attacks by militants, President Ashraf Ghani said in a speech on Tuesday.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a report on Monday that more than 1,280 Afghan civilians had been killed in the first six months of the year, mainly as a result of fighting between Afghan government forces and the Taliban.

The US State Department said last week that US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad would travel to the region to push for an agreement on prisoner exchanges and a reduction in violence.

Philippine trash trawlers earn little from virus-boosted surge in plastics

Updated 38 min 18 sec ago

Philippine trash trawlers earn little from virus-boosted surge in plastics

MANILA: Virgilio Estuesta has picked through trash in the Philippines’ biggest city for four decades, and is noticing an unusually large amount of plastics during his daily trawl of about 15 km (9.3 miles).
Tough curbs re-imposed to combat a surge in daily coronavirus infections are squeezing income for the 60-year-old, as many of the junkyards and businesses in Manila that buy his recyclables have been closed since March.
Plastic items, such as bottles and containers, dominate the contents of the rickety wooden cart Estuesta pushes through the deserted streets, far more than metals and cardboard, yet the money they bring in is not enough to get by.
“It’s been really hard for us, it’s been difficult looking for recyclables that sell high,” he said.
“Recently we’ve been seeing a lot more plastics, but the problem is they don’t really sell high.”
Environmentalists say the Philippines is battling one of the world’s biggest problems stemming from single-use plastics, and ranks among the biggest contributors to plastic pollution of the oceans. It has no reliable data for its plastics consumption.
Greenpeace campaigner Marian Ledesma said consumers and businesses are now using yet more single-use plastics, in a bid to ward off virus infections.
“The pandemic has really increased plastic pollution,” she added. “Just because there’s a lot more people using disposables now, due to misconceptions and fears around transmitting the virus.”
Since March 16, Manila has experienced lockdowns of varying levels of severity, in some of the world’s longest and tightest measures to curb the spread of the virus.
They are taking a toll on Estuesta, who hopes to start earning soon.
“When you go out, the police will reprimand you,” he said. “I was stuck at home and had to rely on government aid, which was not enough. I had to resort to borrowing money from people.”