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The Pakistani Taliban said it was extending a ceasefire with the government in Islamabad until May 30, after the two sides held an initial round of talks in neighboring Afghanistan.

ISLAMABAD — The Pakistani Taliban said Wednesday it was extending a ceasefire with the government until May 30, after the two sides held a first round of talks hosted by the Afghan Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan. .

The militant group’s spokesman, Mohammad Khurasani, said the talks between the Pakistani Taliban and the government in Islamabad were being facilitated by Afghanistan’s new Taliban leadership.

The Kabul Taliban have confirmed the talks and the extension of the ceasefire. Their spokesman, Bilal Karimi, said they were doing their best for the continuation and success of the negotiations.

The Pakistani militant group – known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP – is separate from but allied with the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in their country last August.

The TTP has long fought for stricter enforcement of Islamic laws in Pakistan, the release of its government-detained members and a reduction in the military presence in the country’s tribal areas. They have also been emboldened by the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan and have in recent months stepped up their attacks on government forces.

Khurasani, the TTP spokesman, said the group had agreed to extend the ceasefire, which began on May 10, at the request of a delegation of Pakistani tribal elders who met separately with the TTP this week. He provided no further details.

It was unclear who was representing the TTP or the Pakistani government at the talks. There was also no immediate comment from the Pakistani military or government, although officials earlier acknowledged sending a delegation to Kabul for talks with the TTP.

Pakistani analyst Imtiaz Gul said Islamabad demanded strong action from the Taliban in Kabul to prevent TTP militants from using Afghan territory to mount cross-border attacks on Pakistan, even threatening to counterattack Afghanistan and “pursuit by Pakistani security forces”.

“These talks are the result of the tough messages from the highest level in Pakistan, which have been conveyed to the Afghan Taliban” following an upsurge in TTP cross-border attacks on Pakistani troops, he said.

The TTP held similar talks with Islamabad last November at the request of the Afghan Taliban. These talks led to a month-long ceasefire and further talks, held with then-Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government, but the truce was not extended at the time. and the violence eventually resumed.

The TTP has been behind numerous attacks against Pakistani security forces and civilians over the past 15 years. A faction of the militant group was also behind a deadly 2014 attack on an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar that killed 147 people, most of them schoolchildren.

Islamabad wants Kabul to act against militants using Afghan territory for attacks inside Pakistan. Prior to the Taliban’s takeover, Islamabad and Kabul often traded blame and accused each other of harboring militants.

Pakistan now says it has completed construction of 93% of a fence along the border with Afghanistan to prevent cross-border attacks by militants.

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Associated Press writer Rahim Faiez in Islamabad contributed to this story.

ABC News

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