Ahmad Jamshid / AP

Taliban launches spring offensive in Afghanistan with attack on US base

No injuries reported as armed group launches spring offensive with what it says was over 100 attacks

Taliban insurgents shot rockets at a U.S. base outside Kabul and targeted Afghan government buildings in a provincial capital Friday, as they launched their spring offensive in a year that has already seen fierce fighting.

There were no casualties in either rocket attack, officials said.

This year's fighting season is expected to be intense after NATO forces ended their 13-year combat mission in December. A NATO-led coalition continues to train and support Afghanistan's security forces in the country.

The Taliban claimed in an emailed statement to have launched 108 attacks across the country Friday and to have "killed and wounded many Americans" at Bagram air base outside Kabul, the capital. According the NATO-led coalition, one rocket landed inside the sprawling base but caused no injuries. 

The Taliban have been fighting the Afghan government and its foreign backers since their hard-line government was ousted from power by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in 2001.

Also on Friday, several insurgent rockets landed in the capital of Ghazni province in central Afghanistan, said Mohammad Ali Ahmadi, the deputy provincial governor.

One rocket fell next to the building of the local women's affairs department, one landed inside the governor's compound, and yet another hit a wall of a museum.

"Fortunately, they didn't cause any casualties or huge damage," Ahmadi said.

In the southern city of Kandahar, a bomb blast wounded three civilians, police said.

Insurgents also attacked multiple police checkpoints in the eastern provinces of Logar and Paktia. However, police chiefs of both provinces said by telephone that their forces repelled the attacks and suffered no casualties.

With the melting of snow, the Taliban typically announce a spring offensive, usually intensifying fighting.

This year has already seen a surge in violence. Insurgents this month have overrun several police and army posts in the northeast and killed eight people in an attack on a courthouse in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Last year was the worst for civilians since the United Nations began keeping records in 2009, with more than 10,000 civilians killed or injured in the conflict in 2014.

The White House announced last month that the U.S. will keep its current complement of 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through the end of 2015, instead of cutting the number by about half, as originally planned.

The U.S. administration added that the size of the U.S. troop presence for 2016 will be decided later this year.

Al Jazeera and Reuters

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