What the Taliban are calling the start of their spring offensive kept security forces across Afghanistan fighting throughout Sunday and into this morning. Officials say 36 insurgents were killed in Kabul and three other eastern provinces. Three civilians died in the attacks, and eight members of the police and army were killed. American officials are praising Afghan forces, but questions remain about how the insurgents were able to infiltrate the most secure parts of the capital. NPR's Quil Lawrence reports.
And if you're just joining us, you're listening to WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
In Afghanistan today, the Taliban has launched a string of attacks across the country, including coordinated strikes in the capital, Kabul, that hit near western targets and Afghan government buildings. The Taliban says today's attack marks the beginning of what they call the spring fighting season, the period after the winter thaw when mountain passes and roads become accessible again.
The bulk of the U.S. military force in Afghanistan is slated to leave the country by 2014. But the Pentagon is willing to keep some Americans there to train Afghan forces, according to a report by NPR's Tom Bowman.
Here's Tom's report for NPR's Newscast:
"Afghan Defense Minister Adbul Rahim Wardak says his country is looking for an enduring long-term relationship with the United States. And part of the relationship centers on training and equipping Afghan soldiers and police."
Afghanistan faces the daunting prospect of a drastic reduction in foreign aid, which currently makes up about 90 percent of the country's revenue. Some have seen an economic life raft in geological surveys that indicate huge deposits of copper, iron, uranium and lithium in various parts of the country. But multinational mining firms have been slow to invest in Afghanistan — not least because of questions about stability after American troops draw down.