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Pakistan suspends offensive for Ramadan

  • Story Highlights
  • Pakistan calls ceasefire to observe Ramadan
  • Month-long period of fasting expected to begin on Monday
  • Border with Afghanistan has seen clashes between government, militants
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan will suspend its military offensive against insurgents on Sunday as it observes the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, state media reported.

Security forces, however, will "retaliate with full force" if militants take advantage of the ceasefire, the Associated Press of Pakistan quoted the Interior Ministry as saying.

Pakistan's government decided on the suspension to allow displaced civilians near the country's border with Afghanistan to return home for the month-long period of fasting, which is expected to begin Monday.

Pakistan's border with Afghanistan is rife with Islamic extremists and has been the site of recent deadly clashes between Pakistani security forces and militants.

The semi-autonomous tribal areas is believed to be home to Taliban and al Qaeda-linked fighters who have carried out attacks inside both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In late June, the military launched an offensive in the area -- the biggest push against extremists in the tribal region since the civilian government took power in March.

Islamic militants vowed to retaliate, and the country has been rocked by several suicide bombings since then.


The exact start of Ramadan -- Islam's ninth and holiest month -- depends on the sighting of the new moon. Muslims are required to abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk.

The government ceasefire will stay in place until the second day of Eid al-Fitr, which heralds the end of the month of fasting with three days of feasts and celebrations.

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