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Apr 25, 3:26 AM EDT

Afghanistan's Taliban announce annual spring offensive


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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The Taliban announced their annual spring offensive in Afghanistan on Wednesday, at a time when insurgents are already regularly launching attacks and battling security forces.

The group issued a statement Wednesday saying that the "Al-Khandaq" offensive would make use of "new and intricate tactics" aimed at "crushing, killing and capturing American invaders and their supporters."

The onset of spring has traditionally brought an uptick in violence in Afghanistan, as melting snows allow fighters to more easily traverse the mountainous terrain.

But in recent years the Taliban and an Islamic State affiliate have carried out near-daily attacks in all seasons. The Taliban have seized control of districts across the country and regularly target Kabul, the capital.

The U.S. formally ended its combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014, but thousands of American troops remain in the country in a counterterrorism and supporting role. The Trump administration has sent thousands of additional troops to try to change the course of America's longest war.

Gunmen attacked a checkpoint in Kabul late Tuesday, killing three Afghan police, said district commander Ghulam Sarwar. No one has claimed the attack, in which the assailants escaped.

Another three police were killed in a similar attack in the western Baghdis province early Wednesday, according to Mohammad Naser Nazari, a provincial council member.

In the southern Kandahar province, a local journalist was shot and killed, said Zia Durrani, spokesman for the provincial police chief.

He said Abdul Manan Arghand, a local TV journalist, was shot dead by two gunmen on a motorcycle as he drove to work.

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