- Last Updated: 2:45 PM, June 26, 2012
- Posted: 7:24 AM, June 26, 2012
KABUL -- Insurgent attacks in Afghanistan rose in April and May, the US-led coalition reported, indicating a Taliban comeback after months of declining activity.
Insurgents launched nearly 3,000 attacks around the country in May, up 21 percent from May 2011, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said Monday. The coalition statistics, which tally everything from rockets and suicide bombings to small-arms fire and roadside bombs, also showed a modest year-on-year rise in insurgent attacks in April, with just under 2,000 violent incidents.
This violence reversed 11 consecutive months during which insurgent attacks dropped from the previous year's levels, a metric that coalition commanders have frequently highlighted as evidence that the Taliban had lost the initiative in the war.
The recent jump in attacks, by contrast, shows that the Taliban remains far from defeated ahead of the planned withdrawal of international troops in 2014. This year's Taliban's spring offensive has included high-profile attacks, including the storming last week of a popular lakeside resort outside Kabul.
"Every day, 20 to 25 of our youths sacrifice their lives for this homeland and are martyred," Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in a special parliamentary address last week, noting the recent surge in attacks on Afghan forces.
In Washington, defense officials noted that despite the large increase in the month of May, the overall level of enemy attacks remains lower for the year. "Compared to last year, enemy-initiated attacks are still down by six percent," a defense official said.
ISAF attributed the rise in the number of attacks to an earlier-than-normal start to the annual fighting season.
Insurgent groups depend in part on revenue from the opium trade, and the fighting season usually begins in earnest only after the poppy harvest is complete. The number of attacks tends to dip at the beginning of the harvest followed by a few weeks of fewer incidents, according to ISAF.
But a poppy blight cut short this year's production, and the reduced poppy harvest led to the increase in violence in May compared with the year before, defense officials said. "This year's harvest started later and finished earlier in the most poppy-prevalent areas of Afghanistan compared to last year," an ISAF release said.
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