Taliban take at least 100 hostages despite ceasefire with Afghanistan president

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Esmatullah Muradi, a spokesman for the governor of Kunduz province, said the kidnapping happened when three buses were travelling through Kunduz from Takhar province, on their way to the capital, Kabul. The Taliban didn't immediately react and its spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahed, didn't respond to calls seeking comment. He said the Taliban had left behind the 149 freed hostages because the militants were unable to transport all of the group due to the rescue operation.

The operation was a boost for Afghan forces, which have struggled to contain a resurgent Taliban on battlefields across the country.

Ghani made the announcement just a day after the leader of the Afghan Taliban said that there will be no peace in the country as long as the "foreign occupation" continues.

President Ashraf Ghani declared a provisional three-month ceasefire with the Taliban on Sunday to mark the Eid al Adha holiday, even though fighting against the Western-backed government in Kabul and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation coalition forces has increased.

On August 19, Ghani called a "conditional" cease-fire with the Taliban to mark the Eid al-Adha holiday, just hours after insurgents said they had seized a district center in the northern province of Faryab.

The Taliban, which controls or contests half of Afghanistan, wants direct talks with the USA because it views Ghani's government as illegitimate.

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The uptick in violence counters the US military's narrative of progress in its longest war, now in its 17th year, and happened prior to an expected cease-fire over the Eid al-Adha holiday, which begins Tuesday.

In his call on Sunday for the truce, Ghani said, "The cease-fire should be observed from both sides, and its continuation and duration also depend on the Taliban's stand".

President Donald Trump's impatience with the 17-year-old war in has promptedU.S. diplomats and commanders to kick-start negotiations with the Taliban, including holding direct talks with the militants. After some deliberation, the Taliban accepted a three-day truce - but fighting soon resumed.

The battle for the city killed at least 100 security forces and 35 civilians, according to Afghan officials. "It is our hope, and that of the global community, that the Afghan people may celebrate Eid al-Adha this year in peace, free from fear", the statement added.

In a message released on the occasion of Eid al-Adha - and without pointing to any cease-fire - the Taliban leader said on Saturday that the insurgents remain committed to "Islamic goals", the sovereignty of Afghanistan and ending the war.

The rejection of Ghani's ceasefire came as government officials were trying to secure the release of at least 170 civilians and 20 members of the security forces who were taken hostage by Taliban from three buses in the northern province of Kunduz.

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