The three-day truce between the Afghan government and the Taliban has been marred by the Daesh jihadist group's car bombing in the east of the country on Monday, leaving at least 29 people dead, including civilians and prisoners, as well as 10 members of the terrorist group, according to the AP.
The attack began Sunday night and did not end until the afternoon of the next day. It took place in Jalalabab prison, which houses about 1,700 prisoners, mostly Daesh and Taliban fighters.
In a statement issued on Sunday night by the agency of the terrorist group, Amaq, Daesh claimed responsibility for the assault, where, according to authorities, some 700 prisoners managed to escape before being recaptured. According to the AFP news agency, the spokesman for the authorities in Nangarhar province, whose capital is Jalalab, said that "the fighting continues" and some of the attackers "took up positions in a market near the prison and confronted the security forces".
This attack put an end to the calm experienced during the three days of truce that had been decreed between the Afghan Government and the Taliban. Until this offensive, the ceasefire announced by the Taliban to commemorate the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha had largely quelled the violence in Afghanistan. The truce was intended as a confidence-building measure between the parties to help advance direct peace talks, and the Afghan Executive had called for a prolongation of the truce.
Zabihullah Mujahid, one of the spokespersons for the Taliban, in order to break away from these attacks and maintain the consensual truce with Ashraf Ghani, has denied any involvement with the assault. But these statements do not correspond with those given by the spokesman of the Ministry of the Interior, Tareq Arian, who has accused the Taliban of "breaking their promises" and of killing 20 civilians, injuring 40 others, during the truce. The Afghan Government has accused the Taliban of violating the ceasefire 38 times, the third time in 19 years of war.
According to the Washington Post, Afghan security officials said that the attack could have been carried out by a group of Taliban dissidents, thus altering the momentum of direct talks. Daesh was not part of the ceasefire, and Sunday's attack was not a violation of the truce, but the prison raid highlighted the kind of violence that could continue in Afghanistan despite a peace agreement between the government and the Taliban. The Daesh branch in Afghanistan has claimed responsibility for several attacks in Kabul. According to UN data, there are some 2,200 active Daesh members in Afghanistan, and although the group has been losing territory, its leadership has not been exhausted and it is still capable of carrying out these types of attacks.
Negotiations have been delayed for months after the signing of the historic peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban by increased violence and a controversial prisoner exchange. According to the Afghan authorities, some 300 Taliban were released on Sunday, bringing the total number to 4,900, but without releasing those accused of serious crimes. Before Eid, the Afghan Government announced that it would release 5,000 prisoners as demanded by the Taliban before talks could begin. This agreement was reached to allow the United States to end its presence in the country after 19 years of war and to ensure that, after the withdrawal of troops, the territory would not become a 'paradise' for terrorist groups.