Taliban announce 'countersurge' in Afghanistan

The militants have vowed to launch a new offensive against US and its allies, which are preparing to increase troop levels.

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    US soldiers and Afghan police take up a position on the roof of a mud house west of Kabul, Afghanistan on Sunday.
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The Taliban have vowed to launch a new offensive this summer in Afghanistan against the government and the foreign soldiers stationed there. The news comes as the United States and its allies plan to increase their troop presence to counter the growing Taliban threat.

A wave of suicide attacks and ambushes will start Thursday, according to the Taliban website, al Emerah.

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Since America and NATO have resolved to send extra troops to Afghanistan, therefore, the Afghans too in response feel the need to start rapid and strong operations, as part of their struggle, to defend themselves and to free the country…
The targets of these operations will be the military units of the invading forces, diplomatic centers, mobile convoys, high-ranking officials of the puppet administration.

The Guardian reports that the insurgents have the potential to make good on their promise.

A western security official said the statement should be taken seriously as the Taliban have previously lived up to their often bold statements of intent, including their past promises to attack roads and encircle Kabul.
"They said they would launch operations in the north of Afghanistan this year and that's exactly what they have done," he said.
"There is no doubt that they can counter-surge if they want to – if they choose to consolidate themselves in Pakistan."

Fighting has been intense across the country. The US claims to have killed up to 42 insurgents in various battles on Wednesday. Meanwhile, nine German soldiers were injured and one killed in a pair of attacks on Wednesday in the north of the country. Earlier this week a British soldier was killed in an explosion. The website iCasualties.org, which tracks troop fatalities, reports that 90 foreign soldiers have been killed so far this year, a 67 percent increase from the same period last year.

The US government and independent analysts said Thursday that violence has risen in the past year and the insurgents have consolidated and expanded their operations, according to the Associated Press. A new State Department study found that the number of insurgent attacks has increased. In addition, the American Security Project, Washington-based think tank, reported on Wednesday that the Taliban is gaining ground in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"Governmental weakness in both states has created opportunities for radical Islamist groups on both sides of the border," the independent analysts concluded.
"Terrorist attacks are up, but worse, territory controlled by the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban has also increased," said the American Security Project…
The American Security Project attributes the rise in incidents to the spread of the Taliban, which it said has a "persistent presence" in about 75 percent of the Afghanistan. In Pakistan, it noted that the government increasingly has ceded authority to militants in tribal areas, even before turning over the Swat Valley to the Taliban earlier this month.

Western nations are pouring more troops into the beleaguered country in hopes of stemming this violent tide. In addition to the more than 20,000 soldiers that the US has earmarked for Afghanistan, Australia and Britain are also pledging troop increases, The Afghan news website Quqnoos reports:

[The] British Prime Minister [said an] extra 700 troops will be sent to Afghanistan mainly to help provide security during upcoming elections.
Deployment of the new British contingent will [raise the number of] troops to 9,000 stationed in Afghanistan, mostly in Helmand, the stronghold of the Taliban militants.
"For Afghanistan, our strategy is to ensure the country is strong enough as a democracy to withstand and overcome the terrorist threat," Brown said.

In addition, Australia has pledged to send an additional 450 troops. The force increases this year will bring the total number of foreign forces in Afghanistan to more than 90,000.

President Obama is also planning to ask Congress for an additional $83 billion in funding for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, CNN reports.

The request is expected to pay for those conflicts for the rest of the 2009 budget year, two Democratic congressional sources said.
The money would bring the running tab for both conflicts to about $947 billion, according to figures from the Congressional Research Service.
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