Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a wanted rebel leader in Afghanistan, has declared a ceasefire against the Afghan government. Hekmatyar, in a statement aired by a private television station and distributed in Kabul, said: “Members of the Hezb-i-Islami has stopped brother killing and will refrain from the destruction of the country.”
However the origin of the statement is yet to be confirmed. Hekmatyar’s forces are greatly outnumbered by Taliban insurgents. A radical anti-Western Islamist, he once led the biggest mujahideen faction fighting the Soviet invasion of 1979-89, and is opposed to the Western-backed government of Mohammed Karzai. He was briefly installed as prime minister heading a government which disintegrated in civil war in the early 1990’s.
Meanwhile two Germans have been kidnapped along with five Afghans, all seven UN workers. The group were involved with a dam project in the centre of the country and were taken in the Wardak province. Police are combing the area and have yet to make contact with the kidnappers.