Taliban steps up spring
offensive By Borhan Younus,
Ilyas Wahdat and Naeem Kohistani
Almost daily armed attacks on government officials
by the Taliban may have prompted President Hamid
Karzai to renew his amnesty offer to supporters of
the ousted Afghan regime.
In the latest
attack on Wednesday night running into Thursday,
reports said as many as 70 Taliban soldiers and 13
policemen had been killed in nine hours of
fighting in the southern town of Mosa Qala in
It is the biggest
Taliban attack since they were ousted by US-led
forces in 2001. Asia Times Online has predicted
the surge in the insurgency. (See Taliban's Iraq-style spring is
sprung Mar 15).
urged the Taliban to give up the violence and join
in the efforts to
reconstruct the country. Almost four decades of
war and civil strife have reduced Afghanistan to
rubble. The Afghan president, whose tone was
conciliatory, called the Taliban "victims of
outsiders" - but he did not identify these.
He said a Muslim did not kill innocent
people, including teachers, engineers and
religious scholars. Neither was burning of schools
the act of a true Muslim, he added. "I ask the
Taliban in which Islamic country are schools
torched?" he rhetorically stated.
public speech at Kabul's Chaman-i-Hazoori park was
on the 14th anniversary of Mujahideen Victory Day
- when the Taliban fighters emerged from
seminaries in Pakistan to overthrow the
pro-communist government on April 28, 1992.
But this victory was followed by another
bout of bloodletting as the different mujahideen
factions started fighting among themselves to grab
power. The infighting resulted in 65,000 deaths in
the capital city, Kabul. In the chaos, the Taliban
seized power in 1996.
Civilian rule was
restored in 2002 by the US-led coalition that has
stayed on to prop up the Karzai regime. But
remnants of the Taliban continue to fight the
coalition forces, government troops and the
police, particularly in the southern and eastern
The escalating violence This week, a rocket landed close to the
Kandahar airport, southern Afghanistan, but caused
no loss of life or property. The airport is under
the control of Canadian troops, who have recently
taken charge of security in the province from US
forces as part of the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization's southward expansion plans.
Major Quentin Innis, spokesman of the
coalition forces, confirmed that it was the fifth
rocket attack on the airport since the
2,000-member Canadian force had taken over.
Four policemen and 11 Taliban fighters
were killed in the Panjwayee district of Kandahar
on May 13, provincial governor Mohammed Daud
Ahmadi said. Violence has escalated in Kandahar in
A senior official of the
Women's Affairs Department escaped unhurt in an
assassination attempt that killed her driver in
southern Helmand, on May 8. It was the first
attack on a woman official in the lawless
province, where the Taliban have targeted teachers
and schools, which have opened to admit girls. The
Taliban regime had banned girls from attending
school, or joining the workforce.
spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi claimed
responsibility for the fatal attack on an
intelligence officer in the Tor Tank district of
Helmand, but denied involvement in the attack on a
schoolteacher in the provincial capital. Both
incidents took place on the night of May 13. The
schoolteacher escaped with injuries.
months back, a teacher named Arif Laghmani was
gunned down inside a school in the Nad Ali
district of the same province. In another attack
in the Musa Kala district in early April, an
intelligence officer was killed along with his
Four policemen were killed in a
clash with the Taliban in Baghran district in
Helmand April 29, the provincial governor said.
The Taliban spokesman Ahmadi confirmed the report
on the ambush of the police patrol.
Interior Minister Zarar Ahmad Moqbil confirmed at
an official meeting on Saturday that security was
a serious concern in Ghazni province. The
Taliban's writ runs large in many districts,
including Andar, where they have imposed a ban on
the entry of vehicles. Since May 1 there have been
20 attacks on police patrols. On May 11, the
deputy governor's vehicle was attacked.
The government has not been able to
confine the violence.
The Taliban claimed
it had captured Baraki Barak district in central
Logar province, which is counted among the most
peaceful in Afghanistan, on April 29. While the
Interior Ministry's spokesman Yousaf Stanizai said
the government forces had repulsed the night
attack, the Taliban claimed they had taken over
the district, burned government offices and killed
or injured several policemen.
publicly decried Taliban attacks in his public
speeches. In one he said, "In our brotherly
neighbor country Pakistan, girls become pilots,
and the ulema [religious scholars] support
that, but in Afghanistan, girls are not allowed to
attend schools and their schools are burnt and
destroyed by bombs," he said.
Service. Released under agreement with Pajhwok