[QODLink]
Central & South Asia

Afghan Taliban declare 'spring offensive'

Group vows a nationwide series of suicide and "insider" attacks on foreign troops, military airbases and embassies.

Last Modified: 27 Apr 2013 08:35
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
The Taliban warned young Afghans not to join the police or army in its annual spring offensive announcement [Getty]

The Taliban in Afghanistan has announced the start of their annual "spring offensive" against the US-backed government, vowing a nationwide series of attacks as foreign troops withdraw.

In a statement released on Saturday via email, the group promised violence that would include "insider attacks" by fighters and "special military tactics" to target international airbases and diplomatic buildings to inflict maximum casualties.

The Taliban also warned Afghans working for President Hamid Karzai's "stooge" regime to distance themselves from the government to avoid being caught up in the attacks, and called for young people not to join the police or army.

This year's "fighting season" is seen as crucial to Afghanistan's future as its much-criticised security forces pit themselves against the armed group who have fought against the Kabul government since 2001.

NATO combat operations in Afghanistan are due to end next year, and coalition commanders say that the local army and police have made enough progress to provide security and keep the Taliban at bay.

Afghanistan's fighting season traditionally begins in April or May as snow recedes from the mountains, and in recent years the Taliban have marked the occasion with a public declaration of their intent to bring down Karzai.

"Degenerate invaders"

The Taliban's latest statement celebrated the start of the NATO withdrawal, saying that "the enemy, with all its military might, has been overwhelmed and finally forced to flee from their military bases".

It added that this year's offensive, named after 7th-century general Khalid bin Waleed, would start on Sunday "in unison throughout the country ... against the transgressing invaders and their degenerate backers".

Last week a study by the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office found attacks by the Taliban and other armed groups rose 47 percent in January-March compared with the same period last year.

The United Nations has separately reported a rise of almost 30 percent in civilian casualties in the first quarter compared with the same period last year, with 475 civilians killed and 872 wounded.

But NATO insists that the war is being won, with US General Joseph Dunford, head of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), saying on Thursday there was "indisputable" progress towards the goal of a stable nation.

Dawlat Waziri, a defence ministry spokesman, told AFP news agency that Afghan forces were ready to take on the rebels alone.

"The Taliban are not able to fight face-to-face, so they heavily rely on roadside bombs and suicide attacks and their attacks inflict a heavy toll on Afghan civilians," he added.

413

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
Featured
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.