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Afghanistan: fighting resumes in south after three-day ceasefire for Eid

Fighting between the Taliban and Afghan government forces has resumed in the southern province of Helmand, officials said, ending a three-day ceasefire agreed by the warring sides to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

There were clashes on Sunday on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand, which has seen intense fighting since the United States began its final troop withdrawal from Afghanistan on 1 May, an Afghan military spokesperson and a local official said.

“The fighting started early today morning and is still ongoing,” Attaullah Afghan, head of the Helmand provincial council, told AFP.

He said Taliban fighters attacked security checkpoints on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah and other districts.

An Afghan army spokesperson in the south confirmed fighting had resumed.

The three-day truce initiated by the Taliban and swiftly agreed to by the Afghan government had largely held during the Eid holidays that ended last night.

Taliban political spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said the negotiating teams of the government and the Islamic Emirate, as the Taliban refer to their ousted regime, met briefly Saturday in Qatar. They renewed their commitment to finding a peaceful end to the war and called for an early start to talks that have been stalled, he said.

Despite the ceasefire, at least 12 people were killed at a mosque outside Kabul on Friday by a bomb blast claimed by the jihadist Islamic State group.

Isis said its fighters had placed an explosive device inside the mosque and detonated it after worshippers arrived to offer prayers on the second day of Eid al-Fitr, the US monitor of jihadist groups, Site, said late Saturday. The bombing killed the imam of the mosque, who was leading the prayers.

Isis also claimed it blew up several electrical grid stations over the weekend.

Before the ceasefire, violence had surged in several provinces of Afghanistan – including former insurgent bastions Helmand and Kandahar.

A series of blasts outside a girls’ school in Kabul last week killed more than 50 people and wounded scores, most of them female students.

The government blamed the Taliban, but the group denied the attack.

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