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Violence Continues In Afghanistan After Loya Jirga Urges Truce

The attacks came after a Loya Jirga council convened by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani ended with a demand for an immediate cease-fire.

At least seven Afghan policemen were killed when suspected Taliban militants stormed checkpoints overnight in western Badghis Province, officials said.

Mohammad Naser Nazari, a provincial councilman, said on May 4 that three other security personnel were wounded during the attack in the Qadis district.

The Taliban did not comment on the attack.

Elsewhere, the Afghan Defense Ministry said two separate coalition air strikes on May 3 killed at least 43 suspected Islamic State (IS) militants in eastern Kunar Province.

In a statement, the ministry said the strikes targeted suspected IS militants in Chapara district. It said an unspecified number of Uzbek and Pakistani nationals were among those killed.

Kunar Province
Kunar Province

Analysts say both the Taliban and IS are active in eastern Afghanistan, especially in the provinces of Kunar and Nangarhar, which border Pakistan.

The reports of fresh violence come a day after an Afghan grand council convened by President Ashraf Ghani ended with a demand for an immediate cease-fire.

The council -- known as the Loya Jirga -- brought together more than 3,200 politicians, tribal elders, prominent figures and others to hammer out a shared strategy for future negotiations with the Taliban.

"I want to say to the Taliban that the choice is now in your hands," Ghani said at the closing ceremony in Kabul. "Now it is your turn to show what you want to do."

Ghani said the message of the five-day gathering was clear: "Afghans want peace" and offered a cease-fire, though he stressed it would not be unilateral.

Ghani also vowed to free 175 Taliban prisoners ahead of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, which starts next week.

In a statement on May 3, the Taliban rejected a cease-fire, saying attacks will continue during Ramadan but said "fighters are very careful of civilians during any operation."

The group has rejected cease-fire proposals saying U.S. and NATO troops must withdraw from the country first.

The grand council produced a 23-point list for peace-talks with the Taliban, including a truce for Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn till dusk.

The Loya Jirga also urged the government to form a strong negotiating team and said at least 50 of its members should represent victims of wars.

The council also backed women's rights, in keeping with the tenets of Islam.

Scarred By Violence, Afghan Women Demand A Voice In Peace Talks
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Based on reporting by AFP, dpa, AP, and Reuters