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AFGHANISTAN: No unreserved Taliban support for Peace Day

KABUL, 18 September 2009 (IRIN) - Taliban insurgents have called the UN-initiated International Peace Day, 21 September, “a futile showy day” but said their fighters will be in a defensive position on the day.

The UN and aid agencies have called on all warring parties in Afghanistan to respect a day of tranquillity on 21 September, which is also Eid-ul-Fitr, and allow aid workers to deliver essential supplies in insecure parts of the country.

“Stop the fighting on 21 September and demonstrate that there is a readiness from all of us to move into a peace process,” said Kai Eide, the UN special representative in Afghanistan.

“We Afghans, more than any other nation in the world, realize the value of peace… I order every member of the Afghan armed forces not to resort to force on this day, except when attacked,” said a statement issued by President Hamid Karzai’s office on 16 September.

However, the insurgents have not unreservedly supported a day of ceasefire.

“The government and the UN only make futile statements… We did not start this war; it was imposed on us,” Qari Yusuf Ahmadi, a purported Taliban spokesman, told IRIN on the phone from an unidentified location. “Our forces will remain in defensive position, as usual.”

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said the Peace Day was more than mere symbolism, and reflected an overwhelming demand among Afghans for peace.

"Afghan people cannot afford this any more… We need peace now. We need to bring this terrible conflict to an end,” said Eide.

Established by a UN resolution in 1982, Peace Day has been marked across the world as a day free of violence and gunfire.

Suicide attackers

Attacks have continued in the run-up to Peace Day. The insurgents reportedly claimed responsibility for a spectacular suicide attack on a convoy of Italian forces in Kabul on 17 September, killing and wounding several people.

“We cannot control and stop our martyr [suicide] attackers,” said Taliban spokesman Ahmadi, implying there could be more suicide attacks in the coming days.

Insurgent tactics - particularly the use of suicide attacks and improvised explosive devices - have caused considerable and increasing civilian casualties, according to UNAMA and other experts.

Armed violence has increased significantly across Afghanistan over the past few years and insurgent groups have established a presence in large swathes of the country, the International Council on Security and Development said in a report on 10 September.


Copyright © IRIN 2009
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
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