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Afghan Taliban Launch Spring Offensive Against U.S., Afghan Forces

Members of the Afghan security services take positions during an operation in an area retaken from the Taliban, in Nawa district of Helmand Province, on April 18.

Afghanistan's Taliban announced the start of their spring offensive on April 28, promising to target military assaults on U.S.-led coalition and Afghan security forces.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in an e-mailed statement boasted that the militant group now controls more than half of the country, citing a U.S. report in February that said the Afghan government controls only 52 percent of Afghanistan's 407 districts.

This year's offensive was named "Operation Mansouri" after the Taliban leader killed last year in a U.S. drone strike.

"Mansouri operations will differ from previous ones in nature and will be conducted with a twin-tracked political and military approach," said Mujahid, explaining that the Taliban will begin building institutions in areas under their control, establishing what he called "social justice and development" mechanisms.

He didn't say whether this means the militants will apply their brand of justice, which when they ruled Afghanistan included public executions and chopping off the hands of convicted thieves.

Apparently foreshadowing the spring offensive, a Taliban attack earlier this week on an army base in northern Afghanistan was among the most devastating ever in the country, killing more than 140 Afghan soldiers.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP