Taliban Claim Bombing That Killed Three Afghan Police

The Taliban claimed responsibility for a bombing that killed three Afghan police officers on Sunday. The bombing was apparently the start of the group’s spring offensive, which was announced on Saturday.

The three police officers were killed by a remote-controlled roadside bomb blast as they traveled to take part in a military operation against insurgents. The incident happened in Ghanzi province in southern Afghanistan.

Mohammad Ali Ahmadi, the province’s deputy governor, added that the vehicles were traveling to Zana Khan. He added that the blast decimated the vehicle carrying Colonel Mohammad Hussain, the deputy provincial police chief. The blast killed him, as well as two other officers.

Two officers were also wounded in the roadside bomb, which officials believe targeted Hussain. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid sent an email to news media claiming responsibility for the attack. Mujahid added that the attack was the opening for the militant group’s annual spring offensive.

The announcement of increased fighting will likely be a test for foreign and domestic troops in Afghanistan. NATO troops are expected to continue pulling out of the country after more than a decade. Afghan security forces are increasingly taking the lead in fighting and conducting operations in the war that has lasted more than 11 years.

Insurgents have already been escalating attacks, leading to April being the most deadly month so far in 2013. They have escalated attacks recently in the hopes of gaining power and influence before next year’s presidential election as well as the withdrawal of foreign combat troops.

The United States will withdraw most of their troops by the end of 2014. Until then, US-backed efforts to reconcile the Islamic militant movement with the Afghan government are ongoing. So far, there has not been much progress.

Along with the roadside bomb, two local officials in the eastern province of Nangarhar reported insurgents attacking a US convoy as it passed through two nearby villages on Sunday. Four Afghan civilians were killed in the crossfire when the soldiers fired back. Afghan forces also arrested six insurgents on Sunday.

[Image via Staff Sgt. Ryan Crane]