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More than 100 people have been taken hostage after Taliban fighters ambushed a convoy of buses in Afghanistan's northern Kunduz province.

A provincial council member in Kunduz said "a total of 300 to 400 passengers" could have been on the buses when the militants stopped them.

The anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban militants have not commented regarding the report so far.

Ayubi said he believes the Taliban were looking for government employees or members of the security forces who usually go home for the holidays. Afghan forces responded quickly and were able to free 149 people and kill at least seven Taliban fighters, he said.

Abdul Rahman Aqtash, police chief in neighbouring Takhar province, says the passengers were from Badakhshan and Takhar provinces and were travelling to the capital, Kabul.

In his call on Sunday for the truce, Ghani said, "The cease-fire should be observed from both sides, and its continuation and duration also depend on the Taliban's stand".

A man shovels debris after the Taliban burned a market in Ghazni
Image The city of Ghazni has seen fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban

Mr. Ghani said government forces would observe a truce in fighting with the Taliban to coincide with the start on Monday of the three-day Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha and continue it through the commemoration of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday on November 19 if the insurgents reciprocated.

On Friday, Taliban leaders directed the Islamist movement's military commanders and shadow governors to observe a four-day truce, sources close to the Taliban said.

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. Some analysts said it might be perceived as an act of desperation by the government following mounting battlefield pressure from insurgents.

The Taliban have sent delegations to Uzbekistan and Indonesia in recent weeks, raising their diplomatic profile even while carrying out deadly attacks. "We just ask the government not to wait, and to try hard to release the rest of the passengers".

He said the ceasefire would only be implemented if the Taliban respect it.

In a message released on the occasion of Eid al-Adha - and without pointing to any cease-fire - the Taliban leader said on Saturday that the insurgents remain committed to "Islamic goals", the sovereignty of Afghanistan and ending the war.



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