Taliban announce plans to ramp up attacks in Afghanistan
KABUL - Reuters
AFP PhotoThe Afghan Taliban announced the start of its annual spring offensive on April 22, warning it would ramp up attacks on foreign embassies and government officials as well as military targets.
"If the foreign occupiers really want to relieve themselves from this nuisance of fighting, they should immediately withdraw," the Taliban said in a statement.
The Islamist militant group has been fighting the Afghan government and its foreign backers since it was ousted from power by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in 2001.
It typically intensifies its military efforts when warmer weather facilitates the transit of fighters and weapons.
This year's offensive has been dubbed "Azm" or "Resolution" - similar to the name chosen for the NATO-led coalition's two year "Resolute Support" mission that started in January.
The Taliban made no mention of the much discussed peace process, which the Afghan president said was close to restarting several months ago.
Afghan and foreign officials say hopes for talks have flickered out and many expect the upcoming fighting season to be the most violent yet.
Last year was the worst for civilians since the United Nations began keeping records in 2009, with more than 10,000 civilians killed or injured in the conflict in 2014.