Afghans mark peaceful Eid following rare Taleban ceasefire

KABUL • Afghans greeted the beginning of Eid with prayers yesterday as the Muslim holiday dawned in peace for the first time since the 2001 United States-led invasion, after the Taleban agreed to an unprecedented ceasefire.

Flocking to mosques for special morning worship marking the first day of the festival, youngsters in the war-battered country expressed cautious optimism, following the suspension of fighting between Afghan security forces and the militants.

"On almost every Eid we have had attacks - this is a rare Eid without violence," Samiullah, 17, who is almost the same age as the conflict, told Agence France-Presse after prayers at the Shah-e Do Shamshira mosque in central Kabul. "We are hopeful peace will come to Afghanistan."

Defence Ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanesh told AFP there had been no reports of Taleban attacks on Afghan forces since the start of the holiday.

President Ashraf Ghani announced last week that police and troops would cease operations against the Taleban for eight days from Tuesday. The Taleban said last Saturday their fighters would stop attacking Afghan security forces for the first three days of Eid, the first time the Taleban had declared a nationwide ceasefire in the nearly 17-year conflict. It said it would continue attacking US-led Nato troops.

Eid al-Fitr is one of Islam's most significant holidays, marking the end of the Ramadan fasting month, and is typically celebrated with feasting and gift-giving by Muslims.

Indonesia's capital Jakarta was quiet yesterday as millions had returned to their home towns and villages to celebrate the 10-day holiday declared from June 11 to 20. President Joko Widodo hosted hundreds at an open house event in the Bogor Palace on the outskirts of Jakarta.

Open houses were in full swing in Malaysia, with thousands flocking to administrative capital Putrajaya to catch a glimpse of new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his Cabinet ministers.

Former premier Najib Razak also played host to thousands of well-wishers at his residence in his constituency of Pekan in Pahang yesterday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BERNAMA, JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2018, with the headline 'Afghans mark peaceful Eid following rare Taleban ceasefire'. Print Edition | Subscribe