Taliban attacks end short-lived local ceasefire in eastern Afghanistan

KABUL, May 21 (Reuters) - Taliban insurgents launched attacks in a district of eastern Afghanistan where local elders had brokered a one-month ceasefire, dashing hopes of a temporary truce, residents and officials said on Friday.

The ceasefire - a rare event as fighting ramps up around the country - had begun on Tuesday to allow local people to harvest wheat and students to sit exams. read more

"Unfortunately the Taliban could not keep their promise, they started attacks against Afghan security forces checkpoints," said Malik Wares, a tribal elder in Laghman province's Alingar district.

"They will always be guilty before the tribes in Laghman."

The Taliban did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The head of Laghman's provincial council said the fighting had started late on Thursday and the Taliban had also captured another district in the province.

"It is very sad seeing that our efforts are wasted," said Jaber Alkozai, a resident of Alingar. "Initially people, especially farmers, were very happy when the Taliban and local government accepted people's demand for a ceasefire, but now it looks like we have to expect very bad days ahead."

Clashes have escalated in Afghanistan as the United States and NATO forces withdraw troops.

Washington, neighbouring Pakistan and other countries have tried to pressure the Taliban to reduce violence, negotiate a peace settlement and announce a ceasefire, but progress has been slow and violence has risen.

Foreign forces are set to withdraw by September 11. Analysts and officials say the Taliban is increasing pressure in the east and south of the country where they have a heavy presence, including in Laghman province as they take hold of districts and close in on provincial capitals.

Reporting by Kabul bureau, Editing by William Maclean

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