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Taliban Rejects Afghan Cease-Fire Offer During Ramadan

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani made the offer on April 23 ahead of the start of Islam's holy month of Ramadan as Afghanistan battles the growing coronavirus pandemic.

The Taliban has rejected a Ramadan cease-fire offer from the Afghan government, saying such a move is "not rational" amid disagreements over the peace process.

The offer was made by President Ashraf Ghani on April 23 ahead of the start of Islam's holy month of Ramadan as Afghanistan battles the growing coronavirus pandemic.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen rejected the offer, saying the militants will keep fighting because of the ongoing disagreements with the government over a potential peace deal as well as a delayed prisoner exchange.

"Asking for ceasefire is not rational and convincing," Shaheen wrote on Twitter late on April 23 as he accused the government of putting prisoners' lives at risk during the pandemic.

A landmark deal signed by the United States and the Taliban on February 29 calls for the Afghan government to release 5,000 Taliban fighters as a confidence-building measure ahead of formal peace talks aimed at ending the 18-year conflict in Afghanistan.

The Afghan government released another 55 Taliban prisoners on April 22. NSC spokesman Javed Faisal said in a tweet the detainees were released as part of ''our efforts to advance peace and fight'' the coronavirus epidemic.

The Western-backed government in Kabul has released more than 480 Taliban inmates since April 8, while the militants have freed 60 Afghan security and defense personnel they were holding.

The militant group has vowed to release some 1,000 Afghan government troops and civilian workers it is holding.

The prisoner swap was scheduled to be completed by March 10, before the start of intra-Afghan peace talks, but it has been delayed by disputes between the sides.

Meanwhile, deadly fighting has continued across Afghanistan since the U.S.-Taliban deal was inked in Doha, Qatar.

Afghan authorities have reported more than 1,270 cases of COVID-19, the disease cause by the virus, including 42 deaths.

Authorities have released thousands of detainees, mostly women, juveniles, and sick people, to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading in prisons.

With reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, and spa

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