Taliban launches spring offensive; dashes Afghan peace hopes

Afghan men prepare the graves for the victims of Sunday's suicide attack at a voter registration center in Kabul, Afghanistan,on April 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
Updated 27 April 2018

Taliban launches spring offensive; dashes Afghan peace hopes

  • Group vows to employ ‘new and intricate tactics’ in response to ‘new war strategy of the enemy’
  • The Taliban says it will focus on “crushing, killing and capturing American invaders and their supporters.”

KABUL: The Taliban’s announcement on Tuesday of the launch of its annual spring offensive has dashed the chances of peace talks with the Afghan government

The announcement follows last week’s deadly attack by Daesh on a voter registration center in Kabul. 

“When the Taliban declares its spring offensive, it’s not only rejecting President Ashraf Ghani’s peace overture, but also launching a war against it,” Mohammed Daud Kalakani, a lawmaker from Kabul, told Arab News.

Since the announcement, the Taliban has unleashed a series of attacks, killing dozens of Afghan security personnel and the deputy governor of Logar province, Foreign Ministry officials told Arab News on Friday.

The offensive spells “disaster for the people,” Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed Radmanesh told Arab News.

“We have our own preparations, and have launched 11 offensives in different parts of the country.”

There have been at least six attacks on voter registration offices, including one in Kabul. The government has acknowledged that many of them are in areas beyond its control, but has vowed to beef up security for parliamentary elections scheduled for October. 

There are fears that the Taliban offensive could escalate violence and reduce the chances of a transparent and secure election.

“So far, only 200,000 people have registered,” Ahmad Saeedi, an analyst and former Afghan diplomat, told Arab News.

“We have 13 million people qualified to vote, so even if we step up security and prolong the period of voter registration, possibly 1 or 2 million will register,” he said.

“Will this be enough of a turnout? Will the election be free, fair and transparent? No. The election will add to the crisis,” he added. 

“Elections are held to bring political stability, but this one will increase the challenges for the government and the people.” Government officials insist the election will be held on time.


Philippines, Vietnam brace for tropical storm Saudel

Updated 41 min 48 sec ago

Philippines, Vietnam brace for tropical storm Saudel

  • Floods and mudslides during October have killed at least 105 people in central Vietnam
  • The floods had compounded the suffering of people already struggling from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic

HANOI/MANILA: Authorities in Vietnam and the Philippines braced on Tuesday for a tropical storm that could bring flooding and landslides in both countries, as the death toll in Vietnam from weeks of adverse weather rose to 105, with dozens still missing.
Rescue teams and disaster officials were on standby and preparing equipment in the Philippines, awaiting the arrival on the main island of Luzon later on Tuesday of tropical storm Saudel, which could bring heavy rains and cause mudslides.
Moderate early rains triggered some minor landslides on Tuesday, blocking several roads.
Vietnam’s weather agency is expecting Saudel to arrive in its central region on Saturday, bringing more intense rains, risking exacerbating its worst flooding in years.
Floods and mudslides during October have killed at least 105 people in central Vietnam, about a third of those soldiers, with 27 people missing, among those 15 construction workers buried under one of several deadly mudslides last week.
At least 178,000 homes, nearly 7,000 hectares (17,297 acres) of crops have been impacted and 700,000 farm animals killed, official data showed.
Vietnam’s current coffee crop harvest and bean quality should not be hurt by continuous rains, traders said, while its main rice growing region will be unaffected.
State television showed people sitting on the roofs waiting for aid from rescuers in Quang Binh province, where floods have blocked roads and cut power.
“I have not eaten since yesterday,” an elderly woman told VTV from her roof. “We have nothing, no food, no phone. Nothing.”
The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) in a statement said the floods had compounded the suffering of people already struggling from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
“These floods are the last straw and will push millions of people further toward the brink of poverty,” Christopher Rassi, Director of the Office of the Secretary General.