KABUL: The Taliban rejected on Monday an Afghan government offer of a ceasefire and they would persist with their attacks, two militant commanders said, while insurgents ambushed three buses and almost 200 passengers travelling for a holiday.
KABUL-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday proposed a conditional three-month cease-fire in the government's US -backed war against the Taliban, seeking to regain political momentum following a string of devastating battlefield losses to security forces at the hands of the insurgents.
They seized several neighborhoods, and it took security forces, aided by USA airstrikes and advisers, more than five days to drive them out.
There was no comment from the Taliban but the area of the incident is under Taliban control.
Esmatullah Muradi, a spokesman for the governor of Kunduz, said the kidnapping happened when three buses were travelling through Kunduz from Takhar province, on their way to the capital, Kabul.
The Taliban did not immediately respond to the offer but in a message from its leader published over the weekend to mark the upcoming Islamic holiday of Eidul Azha the group continued to push for direct talks with the US. The Taliban accepted that three-day truce but later rejected a call by the president to extend it. Some analysts said it might be perceived as an act of desperation by the government following mounting battlefield pressure from insurgents.
The Taliban have resurged in recent years, seizing entire districts across Afghanistan and regularly carrying out large-scale bombings and attacks that have killed scores of people.
The U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officially ended their combat mission at the end of 2014 but have repeatedly come to the aid of Afghan forces in recent years to prevent the Taliban from advancing into major cities.
According to provincial officials, however, the majority of the passengers have already been released, with just 21 still in the militants' hands.
Mr. Ghani made the announcement Sunday during celebrations of the 99th anniversary of Afghanistan's independence in the capital Kabul.
"The government forces can not go to the area at night", he said. The Taliban has reasserted itself this month with a wave of deadly attacks that have killed hundreds, providing it with additional leverage ahead of nascent peace talks.