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Rockets, gunfire herald start of Taliban's spring offensive in A - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Rockets, gunfire herald start of Taliban's spring offensive in Afghanistan

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By Masoud Popalzai, Qadir Sediqi and Jethro Mullen

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Militants carried out a deadly attack on a government building in eastern Afghanistan and fired rockets near Kabul's main airport Monday as the Taliban began their annual spring offensive.

An armed group stormed the provincial Justice Department in the city of Jalalabad on Monday morning, clashing with Afghan security forces, authorities said.

By the time the fighting ended, three insurgents, two police officers and two civilian employees of the Justice Department were dead, said Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry. Four other civilians were wounded, he said.

In the capital, Kabul, two rockets landed near military buildings around the northern side of the city's international airport but didn't cause any casualties or material damage, the Interior Ministry said.

As they often do, the Taliban offered a different version of events, claiming the rocket attack had killed several people and damaged buildings.

In their statement last week announcing the start of their spring military operations, the Taliban said the offensive's main targets would include foreigners, Afghan government staff and their organizations nationwide.

Each year since NATO forces entered Afghanistan, the Taliban have launched renewed attacks as the snow melts.

Most NATO troops are due to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of this year as the U.S.-led war effort winds down.
   
 CNN's Masoud Popalzai and journalist Qadir Sediqi reported from Kabul. CNN's Jethro Mullen wrote from Hong Kong.
   
 The-CNN-Wire
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