Kandahar assaults underscore vulnerabilities in Afghan war effort
Taliban attacks continued for a second day in Kandahar, despite a yearlong effort by NATO and Afghan forces to drive the Taliban out of the southern province.
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The Taliban continued their assault on government offices in Kandahar for the second day Sunday, after militants launched attacks in their former stronghold Saturday as part of the start of the group’s spring offensive.
The attacks across the city come after a yearlong campaign by NATO and Afghan forces to drive the Taliban out of Kandahar Province and southern Afghanistan. They show that despite those efforts, the city is still vulnerable to a widespread Taliban assault.
Agence-France Presse reports that four died in the attacks, and nearly were 50 wounded. They began Saturday when militants used rocket-propelled grenades to attack the governor’s office from nearby buildings. They also attacked police stations and local offices of Afghanistan’s intelligence service, and used suicide bombers. AFP reports that though fighting died down overnight, militants Sunday remained in a building near an intelligence service office, and fired rockets and guns.
"It is a complicated building, that is why it has taken a while to clear up but soon we will clear the building of the enemy," said Kandahar border police commander General Abdul Razeq, according to AFP.
The Associated Press reports that fighting resumed Sunday when security forces tried to clear Taliban fighters from the building where they were holed up. Doing so was difficult because most fighters were believed to be wearing suicide vests. NATO troops and helicopters were supporting Afghan forces, reports AP.
AFP reports that 12 insurgents were killed in the fighting and seven captured, according to the Defense Ministry, while AP quoted an Interior Ministry spokesman saying 23 attackers had been killed, including eight who had detonated suicide vests. The Taliban says 100 militants took part in the attack, while NATO estimated 40 to 60.
The Taliban declared the start of their annual spring offensive last week, and the attack on Kandahar was the first major operation since. The assault, says the AP, “cast doubt on the effectiveness of a yearlong campaign to secure Afghanistan's south and Kandahar in particular.”