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For a day, Fighting stops in Afghanistan...

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  • For a day, Fighting stops in Afghanistan...

    For a day, fighting stops in Afghanistan

    By Jason Straziuso - The Associated Press
    Posted : Tuesday Sep 23, 2008 5:34:30 EDT

    KABUL, Afghanistan — The U.N. said guns fell silent across much of Afghanistan on Sunday for an International Peace Day that saw pledges by the U.S., NATO, the Afghan government and the Taliban to halt attacks.
    Violence still marred the day. A Taliban attack Sunday killed two guards in one province, while in another a battle that began Saturday continued.
    Still, the U.N. said tens of thousands of international troops, Afghan soldiers and Taliban militants “all stood down from offensive military operations in support of the biggest International Peace Day effort that Afghanistan has known.”
    Most government officials around the country reported no violence, and several credited Peace Day efforts.
    “Today is Peace Day. The soldiers are resting,” said Abdul Jalal Jalal, the police chief in Kunar province, which borders Pakistan.
    When asked if he had any reports of violence, U.S. coalition spokesman Sgt. 1st Class Joel Peavey said: “Not at all.”
    “It’s crazy but apparently the Taliban sent out an e-mail saying they were going to abide by it if we were, and we definitely are,” he said. “It’s a great day to show Afghans exactly what peace is like and how their everyday life would be if they just booted out the bad guys.”
    In Ghazni province, Taliban militants attacked a security company guarding a road construction crew, killing two guards, said the governor’s spokesman, Ismail Jahangir.
    And in the western province of Herat, fighting continued Sunday in a battle that began with a militant attack Saturday that killed 11 police, said Sayad Gul Chesti, the district chief.
    Still, the push for peace was largely successful considering that U.S. and NATO forces shelved offensive operations and that 2008 has been the most violent year in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that ousted the Taliban’s hard-line Islamist government.
    Taliban attacks have grown larger and more deadly this year. At least 120 U.S. soldiers and 104 troops from other NATO nations have died already in 2008, both record numbers. Overall, more than 4,500 people — mostly militants — have died in insurgency-related attacks this year.
    Sunday was the 26th anniversary of the International Day of Peace, a U.N.-backed push for a day of nonviolence and global cease-fire. The U.N. mission in Afghanistan in particular heavily promotes the day.
    The U.N.’s special representative in the country, Kai Eidi, described the response as “remarkable” and urged all sides in the Afghan conflict to make peace a common goal.
    Afghans around the country celebrated the day with sporting events, gatherings and marches. The Ministry of Public Health launched a polio vaccination campaign in which some 12,000 volunteers would vaccinate up to 1.8 million children from Sunday through Tuesday, the U.N. said.
    The campaign also planned to vaccinate in the violence-plagued south, where medical workers are routinely attacked. Afghanistan is one of only 14 countries in the world where polio exists, according to the World Health Organization.
    In the northern city of Kunduz, a street that has seen three suicide bombs was rededicated as “Peace Avenue” during a Peace Day ceremony. In the central highland town of Bamiyan, Afghanistan’s first Olympic medal winner led a march of Afghan orphans. Rohullah Nikpai won a bronze at the Beijing Olympics in taekwondo in August.

    ...And shephards we shall be. For thee my lord, for thee. Power hath descended forth from thy hand. That our feet may swiftly carry out thy command. So we shall flow a river forth to thee. And teeming with souls shall it ever be. E Nomini Patri, E Fili, E Spiritu Sancti.

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