KABUL: The Taliban militia announced they would launch their annual “spring offensive” across Afghanistan on Thursday, threatening to target US-led NATO troops and their allies with renewed vigour.
Code-named Al-Farouq, the primary targets of the offensive would be “foreign invaders, their advisors, their contractors, all those who help them militarily and in intelligence,” the militants said on their website.
“Al-Farouq spring offensive will be launched on May 3 all over Afghanistan,” the militant group said.
The militia said the code name came from Islam’s second caliph, Omar Al-Farouq known for his military advances in Asia and the Arab world during the 7th century.
The announcement came hours after Taliban insurgents armed with guns, suicide vests and a bomb-laden car attacked a heavily fortified compound used by Westerners in Kabul, killing seven people and wounding more than a dozen others.
The militants claimed the attack in defiance of US President Barack Obama’s call that the war was ending during a visit to Afghanistan on the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death on Wednesday.
Obama flew into Kabul in secret in the dead of night and signed a deal with President Hamid Karzai, cementing 10 years of US aid for Afghanistan after NATO combat troops leave in 2014.
The rebel group said it will adopt new tactics to “safeguard” civilians as part of the new offensive.
“New and tested war tactics will be implemented in the Al-Farouq operation and top priority will be given to safeguarding the lives and wealth of civilians,” the statement said.
The United Nations said civilian deaths from the Afghan conflict reached a record high of 3,021 in 2011 – mostly at the hands of insurgents – up eight percent from 2,790 in 2010.
The militants also said a committee will be assigned to “invite” members of the Afghan security forces to join their insurgency, which is now into an 11th year.
Just over two weeks ago, squads of militants targeted government offices, embassies and foreign bases in the biggest coordinated attack in Kabul during more than 10 years of war since the Taliban were driven from power for refusing to hand over bin Laden.
A Pentagon report issued Tuesday said that insurgent sanctuaries in Pakistan and corruption pose “long-term and acute challenges”.