Avenging bin Laden: Taliban Unleash Spring Offensive in Afghanistan

Avenging bin Laden: Taliban Unleash Spring Offensive in Afghanistan
Taliban fighters carried out a series of coordinated attacks across the embattled southern Afghan city of Kandahar Saturday — a campaign that Afghan President Hamid Karzai characterized as “revenge” for the death of Osama bin Laden. Insurgents first assaulted the provincial governor’s palace with rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire and then launched a series of strikes across the city on the headquarters of the Afghan National Police and the Transportation Police, on Police Sub-station One as well as various other Afghan National Security Force and International Security and Assistance Force buildings in both Kandahar city and in the Arghandab River Valley, ISAF reported. Between a dozen and two-dozen people were wounded in the fighting, Afghan media reported. All of the suicide bombers were killed.

“Al-Qaeda and its terrorist members who have suffered a major defeat with the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistani territory have tried to hide this defeat by killing civilians in Kandahar and take their revenge on the innocent people of Afghanistan,” Karzai said in a statement. The link between the Kandahar attacks and the death of bin Laden was bolstered by a statement seen on many jihadist websites on Saturday in which the Taliban said that “The Islamic Emirate [the Taliban’s name for itself] believes the martyrdom of Sheikh Osama bin Laden will give a new impetus to the current jihad against the invaders in this critical phase of jihad. The tides of jihad will gain strength and width. The forthcoming time will prove this both for the friends and the foes.” The statement was signed by “the general leadership” of al-Qaeda. But later, Taliban spokesmen insisted that the attacks had been in the works for months, news services reported.

In a further warning, Lotfullah Mashal, spokesman for the National Directorate of Security, said at a press conference that, “The death of Osama does not mean the end of terrorism, because al-Qaeda is like a spider net spreading over Afghanistan and other countries.” See TIME’s complete archive of Osama bin Laden coverage.

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