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Afghanistan - Eid messages

Karzai calls for peace, Mullah Omar promises defeat

Article published on the 2009-09-20 Latest update 2009-09-20 11:03 TU

Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano touches the coffin of a soldier at Ciampino airport in Rome (Photo: Reuters)

Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano touches the coffin of a soldier at Ciampino airport in Rome
(Photo: Reuters)

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai on Sunday called on "Afghan brothers" fighting his government to lay down their arms and live in peace. He was speaking on the Eid al-Fitr Muslim holiday. Taliban leader Mullah Omar's Eid message showed no sign of an end to the movement's insurgency.

Karzai, who has promised to launch peace talks if he is re-elected, extended an olive branch to the rebels in a message marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

"On this auspicious day once again I ask all those Afghan brothers who are unhappy or are in others' hands to stop fighting, destroying their own land and killing their own people," he said.

"They must come to their houses and live in peace in their own country,"

But the Taliban see "no interest" in negotiating, spokesperson Yousuf Ahmad told the AFP news agency after Karzai's declaration. He dubbed the incumbent and his principal rival, Abdullah Abdullah, "killers" and echoed claims that there was widespread fraud in last month's presidential election.

On Saturday, Taliban top commander Mullah Omar declared Karzai's government a "stooge" of foreign powers and predicted that the allies will be defeated.

"The more the enemy resorts to increasing forces, the more they will face an unequivocal defeat in Afghanistan," was his Eid message.

Afghan and foreign troops are to refrain from offensive operations on Monday in honour of UN Peace Day, which was created in 1981. The Taliban have also said that they will only act in self-defence for the day.

The bodies of six Italian soldiers killed in a suicide attack on Thursday were repatriated on Saturday.They were greeted by family members, President Giorgio Napolitano and other politicians.

The country is observing two days of national mourning and they will be given a state funeral on Monday before being returned to their home towns to be buried.