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  • Afghan security force members take part in a military operation in Helmand province, Afghanistan, March 13, 2017.

    Afghan security force members take part in a military operation in Helmand province, Afghanistan, March 13, 2017. | Photo: Xinhua

Published 20 March 2020
Opinion

So far all 22 people who tested positive in the country had recently visited Iran, which has been one of the worst Covid-19 hotspots in the world.

The Afghan government suggested on Thursday a nationwide ceasefire with the Taliban to fight the spread of coronavirus and deliver services to the people in Afghanistan, where the global pandemic has so far infected 22 people and forced the country to ban all types of social and political gatherings.

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“In order to prevent the pandemic in the country, our suggestion and demand is to go for a ceasefire, so we will be able to help our people with precaution and treatment of this disease in every corner of Afghanistan,” Defense Minister Asadullah Khalid said in a video message, along with the country’s Interior Minister, Masoud Andarabi.

Khalid said the Afghan government and security forces are working throughout the country to prevent the spread of the virus and to deliver necessary services and assistance to residents.

“Our suggestion is for a nationwide ceasefire, so we can work together for prevention of this disease” Khalid said.

There has been no response from the Taliban to the suggestion from the Afghan government.

The suggestion of a ceasefire came at a time the Taliban had begun armed attacks against Afghan security forces, following a week-long reduction in violence last month.

After the end of the week, which paved the way for a U.S.-Taliban peace agreement signing on 29 February in Doha, the Taliban stopped their attacks against foreign forces but gradually increased armed strikes on Afghan forces, which have continued despite several warnings from the government.

Khalid said Afghan troops, to respect the U.S.-Taliban peace agreement, have remained in full defensive mood from 22 February but the Taliban had “not only restarted their attacks, but even increased their attacks” after the reduction in violence ended on 29 February.

“Today we directed all our forces to go from defensive mood to “active defensive situation,” Khalid said.

Afghanistan has allocated US$25 million and prepared several isolation centers with more than 1,000 beds in various provinces as part of its effort to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

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