Taliban Launch Summer Offensive, Kabul
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[May 12, 2014]
KABUL (Reuters) - Taliban militants
launched a wave of attacks across Afghanistan on Monday, the first day
of their declared summer offensive, targeting the international airport
and the United States' biggest military base near Kabul.
The Islamist Taliban have vowed to target Afghan and foreign
forces, as well as the political process as the country prepares for
a second round run-off in the presidential election.
Two rockets landed just outside the heavily guarded airport, but no
one was hurt, the interior ministry said.
The U.S.-led coalition reported four rockets hit the U.S.-run Bagram
Airbase near capital. No one was killed.
Insurgents also stormed a government building in the eastern
province of Nangahar, killing two policemen and two government
workers, said Fazel Ahmad Sherzad, the provincial police chief. The
three attackers were killed, he added.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan with an iron fist from 1996 to
2001, are seeking to overthrow the U.S.-backed government and end
The insurgents had vowed to derail the first round of the election
last month, but a security crackdown by Afghan forces ensured the
vote proceeded without any major incidents.
Afghan troops are responsible for most security, as foreign combat
troops prepare to leave the country by a year-end deadline.
The Taliban are expected to pose a bigger threat during next month's
second round of voting, as the snow will have melted giving them
more freedom of movement from their mountain hideouts.
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Just over 30,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan, down from a peak
of about 100,000 in 2011. Washington has been trying for months to
bring in a bilateral security agreement allowing a small American
force to stay beyond the end of the year for counterinsurgency and
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign the deal, but the
two men in the running to replace him say they will push the
Former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and ex-World Bank
economist Ashraf Ghani shared about 75 percent of the first round
vote, but neither secured an outright majority, according to
A run-off to decide the winner is expected in early June.
(Reporting by Jeremy Laurence in Kabul and Rafiq Sherzad in
Jalalabad; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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