Afghans mourn schoolgirls killed in blasts as Taliban plans three-day ceasefire for Eid

Dozens of young girls were buried at a hilltop cemetery in Kabul on Sunday, a day after a secondary school was targeted in one of Afghanistan’s most deadly attacks this year.

More than 50 people, most of them schoolgirls, were killed in the blasts in Dasht-e-Barchi, a west Kabul suburb, on Saturday.

The attack hit a crowded area during a busy holiday shopping period, leaving more than 100 others wounded.

In photos of the funeral on Sunday, family members can be seen crying over the bodies of their loved ones at a cemetery west of Kabul.

The government had blamed the Taliban for the incident, but the group denied having any role in the attack.

Attacks in the area are often claimed by the Afghan Islamic State affiliate, a radical Sunni group with a history of assaults on Afghanistan’s minority Shiite population.

So far, however, no group has taken responsibility for the incident.

The deadly incident unfolded just days after the remaining 2,500 to 3,500 US troops in the country began pulling out as part of a withdrawal overseen by President Joe Biden.

On Monday, a day after the funeral for victims of the blasts, Afghanistan’s Taliban announced a three-day ceasefire for Eid-al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The ceasefire is expected to begin either on Wednesday or Thursday, with the Muslim calendar following lunar cycles and the Eid holiday dependent on the sighting of the new moon.

Confirming the ceasefire, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said Taliban fighters have been ordered to temporarily cease all offensives “to provide a peaceful and secure atmosphere to our compatriots…so they may celebrate this joyous occasion with greater peace of mind”.

Hours after the planned cease-fire was announced, 11 people were killed after a bus in southern Zabul province struck a roadside mine. At least 24 others were also injured in the attack.

Improvised explosive devices have commonly been deployed by the Taliban and are strewn throughout the countryside.

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