Taliban Says It Will Begin Spring Offensive Sunday
The Taliban will launch their annual spring offensive on Sun., April 28, the group said Saturday.
In a press release, the Taliban said that the offensive will target "America, NATO and their backers for the gratification of Allah Almighty, independence of Afghanistan and establishing in it an Islamic government while we humbly raise our hands towards Allah Almighty for its success and hope for a favorable and triumphant end."
The militant group says it will use "every possible tactic" to inflict casualties on foreigners in Afghanistan. They specifically mention insider attacks, which have been a growing threat over the last couple of years, and "collective martyrdom operations."
According to the statement, the operation will begin across the country Sunday. The Taliban say they chose April 28 as the start of their offensive because it is the anniversary of the Mujahedeen victory over the communist government in 1992.
The militant group says it named this year's operation Khalid bin Walid R.A., after a famous military general from the era of Prophet Muhammad.
In response to the Taliban announcement, NATO sought to reassure the public, releasing the following statement:
"The Afghan people should not fear Taliban threats. The Afghan National Security Forces have wisely used the winter months to prepare for taking over the security lead throughout Afghanistan by mid-2013. They are ready. Further, the international community, the Afghan Government and the ANSF are with the Afghan people. Too much progress has been achieved and the Afghan people will not return to the dark days of the past."
According to a recent independent report, Taliban attacks are already up nearly 50 percent compared to this time last year. The U.N. says civilian casualties are 30 percent higher than this time last year.
UPDATE: As of 11:15 a.m. on Sunday, a deputy provincial police chief and two other officers in Ghazni province have been killed by a remote-controlled roadside bomb. In addition, militants have stormed a district government building in Ghazni, and fighting is ongoing. So far, there have been no reports of any other fighting or violence around the country.