Afghan forces free most hostages taken in new Taliban attack

Afghan President Offers Taliban Conditional Three-Month Cease-Fire

The government previously announced a ceasefire with the Taliban during the Eid al-Fitr holiday in June this year.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani declared a provisional three-month ceasefire with the Taliban in a televised broadcast August 19, but said the truce would hold only if the militants reciprocated. The wire service says 21 hostages were still in the hands of the Taliban, which lost at least seven of its own fighters in the operation. He said none of them were government employees or members of Afghanistan's security forces.

The buses were stopped in the province's Khan Abad district, an area under Taliban control - prompting a battle against government forces deployed in a rescue operation.

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

The incident comes despite President Ashraf Ghani's call for a cease-fire with the Taliban during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

"Our leadership feels that they'll prolong their stay in Afghanistan if we announced a ceasefire now", a senior Taliban commander, who declined to be identified, told Reuters.

Esmatullah Muradi, a spokesman for the Kunduz governor, said the bus passengers were taken to "an undisclosed location" after being forced from the vehicles on Monday morning.

#SheToo? Actress Argento, who accused Weinstein, paid her own accuser
The NYT piece that ran online late Sunday said Argento has arranged a deal to pay actor/musician Jimmy Bennett $380,000. Bennett once played Argento's son - when he was 7 - in the 2004 film The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things .

An Interfax news agency report stated on Monday that Zamir Kabulov, special representative of the Russian president on Afghanistan said a meeting has been organized for September 4 and that a Taliban delegation is expected to attend.

The Taliban have been at war with the US -backed Afghan government for nearly 17 years, and have stepped up attacks in recent years, seizing rural districts and carrying out major assaults against security forces and government compounds on an almost daily basis.

President Donald Trump's impatience with the 17-year-old war in has promptedU.S. diplomats and commanders to kick-start negotiations with the Taliban, including holding direct talks with the militants.

Earlier this month, the Taliban launched a major assault on the city of Ghazni, just 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Kabul. It follows a July truce, during which the Taliban also laid down arms for three days.

Fighting has been mounting in the Taliban's insurgency against the government in Kabul and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation coalition forces, launched after the Islamist group was ousted from power in a US -led military intervention in 2001.

In a message released on the occasion of Eid al-Adha - and without pointing to any ceasefire - 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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