The Taliban fought with Afghan security forces in eight provinces of the country in the first day of the reduction in violence plan, according to reports sent by the public to TOLOnews.
The clashes were reported in Faryab, Uruzgan, Paktia, Balkh, Baghlan, Badghis, Helmand and Kapisa provinces.
With the start of the reduction in violence, TOLOnews asked the public across the country to text information about attacks to a WhatsApp number. 400 people sent messages, and many of them simply expressed support for the reduction in violence. However, messages also came in reporting clashes between the Taliban and the Afghan security forces in eight provinces of the country.
Meanwhile, the Afghan acting Minister of Defense Assadullah Khalid confirmed that in the first 12 hours since the reduction in violence was in effect, the Taliban launched some attacks in various regions, and the Afghan forces defended themselves against those attacks.
“Violence has declined significantly. Only a few minor attacks were reported in some areas that are not serious,” said Khalid.
The Taliban’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on Twitter stated that the reduction in violence agreement places the following areas off limits: "The centers of all provinces, all corps (Afghan military corps), units, divisions (Afghan army divisions) and all foreign bases." In areas not on this list, Mujahid said, "any shelling and attacks by the (Taliban fighters) shouldn’t be taken as a violation, because this is not a nationwide ceasefire.”
Details are not available about any casualties from the attacks today.
“When the two sides are still armed, there is a need for more caution, because even a small provocation by a commander or a soldier can affect the entire process,” said military analyst Atiqullah Amarkhel.
This comes a day after the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the announcement by the United States and Taliban about a reduction in violence.
He said that this is a critical test of the Taliban’s willingness and ability to reduce violence, and contribute to peace in good faith.
“This could pave the way for negotiations among Afghans, sustainable peace, and ensuring the country is never again a safe haven for terrorists,” he said.
What is the reduction in violence agreement?
At 12:00 midnight (Afghan time) on Friday, Feb. 21 (the morning of Saturday, Feb. 22), a reduction in violence plan kicked off that is intended to last for seven days. Upon its successful completion, according to statements by the US and Taliban, a peace deal negotiated between the two sides over the past 18 months in Doha, will be signed. The expectation is that this signed agreement will lead to intra-Aghan talks between the Taliban on one side, and a delegation representing the Afghan republic's government and political and civil establishment, on the other.