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Taliban Overruns Afghan District as Government Cease-fire Takes Effect

Residents look at an Army vehicle which was damaged during battle between Afghan security forces and Taliban in Farah province, Afghanistan, May 16, 2018.

The Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan overran a district and threatened another Tuesday after a unilateral government ceasefire went into effect.

Officials confirmed that a pre-dawn assault by insurgents on Kohistan in northern Faryab province killed at least 12 members of the Afghan forces and wounded 13 others before the Taliban captured the district.

A provincial government spokesman told VOA Afghan forces retreated from Kohistan to avoid civilian casualties.

Meanwhile, Afghan soldiers were locked in fierce battles with Taliban insurgents near the police headquarters in Moqur, a volatile district in central-eastern Ghazni province.

Local security officials have confirmed the killing of at least six security personnel. Afghan media reported that the district governor was among at least 26 people injured in the clashes while more than two dozen insurgents were also killed.

A Taliban spokesman, meanwhile, has alleged American war planes on Monday bombed the group’s “Voice of Sharia” radio station in Ghazni, something U.S. defense officials have yet to confirm.

The Taliban's Zabihullah Mujahid warned his group “will not show restraint regarding such evil enemy actions anymore and if such acts persist against our media channels, our reaction will prove much fiercer.”

In response to the government’s weeklong ceasefire that went into effect on Tuesday, the Taliban has also pledged to cease attacks against Afghan security forces during the three-day festivities of Eid al-Fitr beginning on Friday.

The Muslim festival marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. This will be the first ever insurgent ceasefire since a U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan ousted the Taliban from power in 2001.

The international community has praised both the Afghan warring parties for pledging to temporarily step back from hostilities, hoping the unprecedented move could strengthen future peacemaking efforts to end the 17-year-old conflict.

In the run-up to its Friday's ceasefire commitment, the Taliban has staged surprise assaults in a number of districts across Afghanistan over the past few days, killing more than 100 members of the Afghan security forces.