Taliban launches new Afghan operation

By NOOR KHAN, Associated Press
The Taliban has launched a new operation targeting government and foreign forces in Afghanistan, a spokesman said Sunday, as two policemen died in an ambush in the volatile south.

Purported Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said the group’s leaders announced the beginning of operation “Kamin,” or “Ambush.”

“In this operation, we will target our enemies and use our tactics — suicide bombs, remote-controlled (roadside bombs) and ambushes — against occupying forces and the government,” Ahmadi said by satellite phone from an undisclosed location. “We start this operation today in all of Afghanistan.”

After a winter lull in violence, militant attacks and military operations have surged. NATO and the U.S.-led coalition stepped up operations in the early spring, hoping to pre-empt a spring offensive by militants that threatened the already-shaky grip of President Hamid Karzai’s government.

In Kandahar, the Taliban ambushed a police convoy on Saturday, and the ensuing one-hour gun battle killed two policemen and wounded three others, said Shah Wali Kot district chief Obaidullah Khan. He said the Taliban also suffered casualties, but he had no details.

In neighboring Zabul province, a roadside bomb exploded Saturday as an Afghan army vehicle passed, wounding two soldiers, said Gen. Rahmatullah Raufi, the regional army corps commander.

Meanwhile, five children were killed in eastern Ghazni province Saturday when a bomb they were playing with exploded, said provincial police chief Gen. Ali Shah Ahmadzia. He said they were 5 to 12 years old, and two other children were wounded.

The explosive was “planted by the enemy at the side of the road in Andar district,” Ahmadzia said.

Afghan police and coalition forces, acting on a tip, raided a compound and detained a suspected Taliban cell leader Saturday night in Ghazni’s Andar district, a coalition statement said. It said no shots were fired and no Afghan civilians were wounded.

The coalition said the suspect was responsible for planting roadside bombs and recruiting suicide bombers. He also was believed to be behind rocket attacks on the Sardeh Band Dam complex, the coalition statement said.

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