Taliban Kickoff Annual Killing Season

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Afghanistan Express Daily Newspaper

May 12, 2014

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Shortly after announcing the start of the summer fighting season, the Taliban organized multiple attacks across Afghanistan.

According to the reports, Taliban militants opened fire and assaulted a government building in the eastern province of Nangarhar.  In Kabul two rocket attacks targeted the city’s international airport, but there were no casualties. And the militants launched another attack on a police checkpoint in Ghazni province, leaving at least three people dead.

After the Taliban stormed the provincial justice compound in the city of Jalalabad in Nangarhar province, police engaged in fighting the militants for many hours.

Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attacks that occurred in the cities of Kabul and Jalalabad, saying they marked the beginning of the summer fighting season. The Taliban announced their summer fighting offensives some days ago with the name “Khaibar.”   They kick-started their bloody campaign on Monday.

The attacks are coming after the International Crisis Group (ICG) warned that Afghanistan’s armed forces would be vulnerable to the Taliban’s resurgence unless they are sufficiently funded and assisted by the international community. The report issued by the organization said the Taliban might gain more ground if the international community neglects to provide enough support for Afghanistan’s armed forces. The ICG report warned that the Taliban might retake largely in insecure areas after completion of withdrawal of NATO forces by the end of this year.

The onset of seasonal violence is coming at a time when Afghanistan is ready to  hold the second round of its presidential elections. The first round of the elections was heavily targeted by the militant groups as the Taliban organized large-scale attacks ahead of the Election Day to disrupt the voting and intimidate the voters. However, the voters were not frightened by Taliban attacks and largely turned out to polling stations to vote for Afghanistan’s next president. The Taliban could not orchestrate a large-scale assault on the day of elections though there was some small scale fighting between Afghan security forces and the Taliban in many of the insecure provinces.

The upcoming violence of the Taliban offensive will particularly target the election and the ongoing withdrawal of NATO forces. After the first round of the elections, there has been a relative lull after the spectacular and brazen attacks of the militant groups in Kabul and elsewhere. The Taliban have vowed to target election workers, campaigners, observers and the ordinary voters.  Though there has been some relief from Taliban attacks, it is expected the Taliban will resume their brutal fight against all the individuals who are contributing in the election process.

Despite the questions raised in recent weeks over the Taliban avoiding escalation of violence, it is most probable that the militants will organize more attacks ahead of the second round of elections. Though in weaker morale after the first round of the elections, the Taliban will do what they can to retaliate their supposed defeat in this round. The Taliban did not shy away from targeting both security forces and civilians alike in this round.  Now they are expected to focus more on targeting officials, security forces and those who are working with the election commissions. The Afghan government and its international allies both need to make sure that the Afghan security forces are sufficiently equipped and trained so that the Taliban can be kept at bay.

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Afghanistan Express

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