Taliban to build more institutions in Afghanistan, announces 'spring offensive'

Taliban to build more institutions in Afghanistan, announces 'spring offensive'

With "Operation Mansouri", named after the Taliban leader killed in a 2016 US drone strike, the Taliban apparently were looking to regain lost ground.

That attack, by a group of around ten suicide commandos, killed at least 135 Afghan soldiers on a base in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, according to official figures, although the actual toll is believed to be as much as double that number.

Already beset by killings, desertions, and struggles over leadership and morale, Afghan forces have been straining to beat back insurgents since US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops ended their combat mission in December 2014.

Ahmadi said the offensive would be a mix of conventional, guerrilla and suicide attacks on Afghan and foreign forces, underlining the challenges facing the U.S. administration as it weighs its options in Afghanistan.

The assault is believed to be the deadliest by the Taliban on an Afghan military target since they were driven from power in 2001, and fuelled fears of insider attacks - when Afghan soldiers and police turn their guns on colleagues or on worldwide troops.

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United States forces in Afghanistan said in a statement that a third USA service member was wounded in the raid, carried out with Afghan National Defense and Security Forces against the militants.

The group described the attack as a "prelude" to the spring offensive.

Afghan security forces take part in an ongoing operation against Islamic State (IS) militants in the Achin district of Afghanistan's Nangarhar province on April 14, 2017.

The Taliban would also focus on developing areas "cleansed from the enemy", the statement said.

UNAMA documented a 54 percent increase in conflict-related deaths of women and a 17 percent rise in child fatalities compared to the same period previous year.

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The attackers carried valid passes to the base, security sources said, and were dressed in Afghan army uniforms.

The Afghan Taliban announced on Friday the launch of their annual fighting season to "cleanse their country of foreign aggressors and other corrupt elements".

As per the report, the Afghan government had control over only 52 percent of Afghanistan's 407 districts a year ago. They are largely conducting a training, advise and assist mission aimed at supporting Afghan forces.

In addition to the Taliban, Afghanistan is battling an emerging local Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) affiliate known as Islamic State in Khorasan.

Nicknamed "the mother of all bombs", the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb was dropped from an American MC-130 aircraft in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, bordering Pakistan. However some members in the US-led coalition were insisting on continued occupation of Afghanistan.

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The bombing triggered global shockwaves, but was criticised by observers who questioned its use against a group that is that is not considered as big a threat as the Taleban.

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