KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - The Taliban on Monday declared a three-day cease-fire in Afghanistan to mark this week's Eid al-Fitr holiday, just two days after the government blamed the insurgents for bombs outside a school that killed more than 50 people, mostly young girls.
"Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate are instructed to halt all offensive operations against the enemy countrywide from the first till the third day of Eid," a statement released by the insurgents said.
"But if the enemy conducts any assault or attack against you during these days, stand ready to robustly protect and defend yourselves and your territory," it added.
Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, and the holiday begins according to the sighting of the new moon.
The cease-fire comes after the government blamed the Taliban for the attack outside a girls' school in Dasht-e-Barchi, a suburb of the capital largely populated by the Shiite Hazara community, which is often targeted by extremist Sunni Islamist militants.
The Taliban have denied they were involved in the attack, the deadliest in the country in more than a year.
Saturday's bombing came as the United States continues to remove its last 2,500 troops from the violence-wracked country despite faltering peace efforts between the Taliban and Afghan government to end a decadeslong war.