The Pakistani Taliban has announced a one-month ceasefire as part of efforts to resume peace talks with Pakistan. The negotiations were halted last month after insurgent and military attacks that killed over 100 people.
Spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said in a statement emailed to media on Saturday that the group had announced a one-month ceasefire and appealed to all "comrades to respect the decision and refrain from any activity during this period."
"Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has initiated talks with the government with sincerity and for good purpose," Shahid said, referring to the group's name.
The Pakistani government's lead negotiator, Irfan Sadiqui, hailed the news and said authorities would review any written document from the Taliban about it.
"Today, we are seeing a big breakthrough," he told Pakistan's Geo Television.
Pakistan's government and the TTP began peace talks in February, despite near-daily insurgent attacks and military air strikes. The negotiations were suspended when a militant faction announced it had killed 23 Pakistani troops. The military responded with air strikes that killed more than 100 insurgents.
The TTP is fighting to unseat Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government and establish its own Islamic rule of law in the country in a years-long conflict that has killed thousands of people. The group, which doesn't recognize the Pakistani constitution, has also called for the removal of all military forces in tribal areas and an end to US drone strikes.
On Thursday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that although the talks had been halted, they could "resume anytime soon and both negotiations and targeted strikes would go hand in hand."
The effectiveness of the TTP's announced ceasefire is yet to be seen, as some of group's factions are believed not to support negotiations with the government. Critics say the TTP has used previous negotiations to regroup.
Earlier on Saturday, two bomb explosions in northwest Pakistan targeting tribal police assigned to guard polio workers killed 11 people.
dr/mkg (AP, AFP, Reuters)