AP: Afghan official: Attackers target lawmaker, leave 3 dead

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan official says two suicide bombers targeted a lawmaker in eastern Nangarhar province, leaving three dead, but the lawmaker wasn’t home at the time.

Ataullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor, said the attack Friday targeted the home of Feridon Momand, a member of parliament, in the provincial capital of Jalalabad. A police officer, a woman and her husband in the building were killed and five others were wounded.

Khogyani says says Momand was not at home at the time.

Khogyani says one of the suicide bombers was killed by police and a second was arrested.

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AP: Afghan president announces holiday cease-fire with Taliban

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday announced a weeklong cease-fire with the Taliban to coincide with the holiday marking the end of Ramadan next week.

A statement sent from the president’s office on Thursday says the cease-fire will begin on 27 Ramadan, or June 12 on the Western calendar, and last through the Eid al-Fitr holiday, until around June 19. It says the cease-fire does not include al-Qaida or the Islamic State group.

There was no immediate comment from the Taliban, who have steadily expanded their presence in recent years, capturing a number of districts across the country and carrying out near-daily attacks, mainly targeting Afghan security forces.

Gen. Mohammad Sharif Yaftali, the army chief of staff, told reporters that Afghan forces would be on standby throughout the cease-fire and respond to any attacks. He also said the army would continue to battle “international terrorists,” apparently referring to al-Qaida and IS.

Ghani’s statement referred to a gathering of Afghanistan’s top clerics on Monday in which they issued a decree against suicide attacks and called for peace talks. A suicide bomber struck just outside the gathering as it was dispersing, killing at least seven people and wounding 20 in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

The Taliban had denounced the gathering, insisting that its jihad, or holy war, against foreign invaders was justified. It instead urged the clerics to side with it against the “occupation.”

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NYT: US Says It Will Intensify Counter-IS Fight in Afghanistan

BRUSSELS — The top American commander in Afghanistan says the Kabul government’s unilateral halt to attacks on the Taliban gives U.S. combat forces an opportunity to intensify attacks against an Islamic State-affiliated extremist group in eastern Afghanistan.

Army Gen. John Nicholson made the comment to reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO defense ministers where he was providing updates on the war against the Taliban. Nicholson said he could not predict whether the Taliban will join the cease-fire announced this week by President Ashraf Ghani.

Nicholson said Ghani’s ceasefire does not apply to the separate fight U.S. counterterrorism forces are engaged in against IS-related fighters in eastern Afghanistan. He said that fight already is intensifying in Nangarhar province and will now be stepped up further.

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NYT: Newspaper Says Inquiry Told Australian Soldiers Committed Crimes in Afghanistan

SYDNEY — Australian soldiers had a “disregard for human life” and used “illegal” violence on missions in Afghanistan, a confidential defense department inquiry heard from special forces insiders, according to an Australian newspaper report on Friday.

“These allegations must be, and are being, thoroughly examined, independently from the chain of command,” Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne said in a statement on Friday, referring to an official investigation which began in 2016.

The investigation is probing “rumors of possible breaches of the laws of armed conflict” by Australian troops in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016.

Australia, a staunch U.S. ally, has had troops in Afghanistan for 17 years fighting against the Taliban and other Islamist militants. It currently has about 300 troops in Afghanistan.

There is a “reasonable basis to believe” that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed by all sides in the conflict, according to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper said unidentified Australian “special operations forces insiders” described the illegal use of force to a secret inquiry before an official investigation began in 2016.

The inquiry reported “problems deeply embedded in the culture” of the special forces and conduct that goes “well beyond blowing off steam”, according to the newspaper.

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Civilians suffer casualties in failed suicide attack on lawmakers’ house in Jalalabad

At least four people including two civilians, a police soldier, and a suicide bomber were killed in a failed suicide attack on a lawmaker’s house in Jalalabad city. The provincial government media office in a statement said the incident took place earlier today in the vicinity of the 4th police district of the city after .

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NATO SG welcomes President Ghani’s announcement for ceasefire with Taliban

The NATO Secretary General Jens stoltenberg welcomed the announcement by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani for a ceasefire with the Taliban group. Speaking during a press conference head of the Defense Ministeriala, Stoltenberg said “I welcome the announcement of a ceasefire made by President Ashraf Ghani and the Government of National Unity. This is a positive .

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