The Taliban in Afghanistan announced plans to ramp up military attacks on both Afghan and coalition security forces as part of a new spring offensive.
News of the planned tactics, released in an email statement by a Taliban spokesman, followed a Taliban attack on forces at an army base on April 21 that killed at least 140 soldiers.
Around ten Taliban insurgents disguised as members of the military forced their way on to the base last Friday. Three attackers then detonated suicide vests while others used guns and grenades in the deadliest attack on armed forces in the country since 2001. Afghanistan’s defense minister and army chief of staff both resigned from their positions following the incident.
Now, the group is promising more of the same, sparking concern that violence and unrest in the country could worsen.
Citing a February report from the U.S. that noted the Taliban’s control of more than half of the country, the group referenced a drop from the previous 63.4 percent of the country they controlled. With “Operation Mansouri,” named after the Taliban leader killed in a 2016 U.S. drone strike, the Taliban apparently were looking to regain lost ground.
That includes an expansion of their political base in the country.
“Hence, keeping the evolving situation in mind, this year's Mansouri Operations will differ from previous ones in nature and will be conducted with a twin-tracked political and military approach,” the spokesman said. There was no reference to any potential peace talks with the government.
The goal, the group said instead, is to develop institutions currently under their control while simultaneously establishing and maintaining “social justice and development” tools.
The new move will highlight a “twin-tracked political and military approach,” according to the BBC.
In areas held by the government, the group will aim for “foreign forces, their military and intelligence infrastructure,” while in areas held by the Taliban, the focus would shift to development and building. Propaganda will also be utilized “to help those deceived by the enemy see the truth of our struggle.”