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Afghanistan mark Eid with prayers for peace

Afghan Muslims offer Eid-al-Adha prayers at the Hazrat-i- Ali shrine in Mazar-i Sharif on September 12, 2016.
Afghans started celebrating Eid al-Adha or “Feast of the Sacrifice”, which marks the end of the annual hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca and is celebrated in remembrance of Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his son to God. / AFP PHOTO / FARSHAD USYAN

Millions of war-weary Afghans on Monday marked the Islamic festival of Eid-ul-Adha with prayers and feasting, hopeful of a brief respite from fighting that has seen record-breaking losses this year.

Fellow Muslims across Asia spent the day slaughtering livestock, giving charity to the poor and visiting relatives on Islam’s second-holiest holiday.

Afghanistan has seen fighting between government forces and Islamist militants — mainly Taliban insurgents but also Islamic State fighters — reach record levels this year following the 2014 withdrawal of US-led foreign combat troops.

“Our country has been at war for nearly four decades, but the three days of Eid are the happiest days of our life because this an occasion where families come together and enjoy and celebrate this festival,” Kabul resident Nasratullah Wafa told AFP:

The roads of the capital were mostly empty and many were blocked by military to safeguard against possible attacks, while police stood guard over mosques during the morning Eid prayers.

US Brigadier General Charles Cleveland in August said Afghan security forces were on track for their bloodiest year to date, surpassing the roughly 5,000 deaths of local police and troops and around 15,000 wounded in 2015.

He did not offer figures but said there was an increase of about 20 percent over the corresponding period last year.

Afghan forces backed by US air strikes have mounted a new offensive to flush out Taliban insurgents encircling the capital of southern Uruzgan province, officials said Sunday, days after militants stormed into the city.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani meanwhile offered Eid greetings to the nation and said that a peace deal with Hezb-e-Islami, the country’s second-biggest Islamist group that has been dormant for a number of years, was imminent.

“Peace is the desire of Afghan nation, and the Afghan nation has consensus for peace. The peace agreement will be finalised very soon,” he said.

In Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, citizens gathered at mosques across the nation to witness the traditional sacrifice of animals, that honours the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son for God.

At a large mosque in central Jakarta dozens of goats, sheep and cows were tethered in makeshift pens in the parking lot before being led to a tiled clearing for slaughter.

Farra, an Indonesian woman in her 40s, said she would take the cuts home where her mother would prepare “sate”, a dish of spiced meat grilled over hot coals, for her extended family.

“We do it every year, and the great thing is we can see our lamb when it’s cut, and can remember it’s our gift to Allah,” she told AFP, as a butcher handed her a freshly carved leg of lamb in a plastic bag.

Pakistan, the world’s second most populous Muslim nation, will celebrate Eid on Tuesday because of differences in interpretation of the lunar date.

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