Taliban plan 2000 human bomb attacks this year
The Taliban is gearing up for a massive summer offensive, with more than 2,000 suicide bombers ready for action and even more preparing, a senior Taliban commander said yesterday.The House has already passed a bill that would require certification that Pakistan was doing all it could to stop the Taliban before military assistance to the country could continue. That would be a difficult certification to make based on the current situation. In one way the attack in Islamabad does put the Pakistani government on notice that the Taliban resurgence in their country puts them at risk too. It is also putting them at risk that the US and NATO forces may take action in Pakistan to root out the enemy if they do not.
The commander, Mullah Hayat Khan, issued his threat a day after a top U.S. diplomat warned that Afghanistan was in for a bloody and dangerous spring after the bloodiest year since the hard-line Islamist Taliban was ousted by U.S.-led forces in 2001.
"The Taliban will intensify their guerrilla and suicide strikes this summer," the mullah said, speaking with Reuters from a secret location. "This will be a bloodiest year for foreign troops."
He said 2,000 suicide bombers were ready -- about 40 percent of the total suicide force -- adding that numbers were so high that it was sometimes hard to find enough explosives and targets.
"Our war preparations have been completed to a large extent, and we're waiting for summer to set in," Mullah Khan said.
Calling the guerrillas virulent and tough, Richard Boucher, U.S. assistant secretary of state for South Asia, warned on Friday the spring would be bloody and dangerous after the traditional winter lull in fighting.
"I think we will face a strong offensive and will have a difficult and dangerous and bloody spring," he told BBC radio as NATO foreign ministers discussed Afghanistan's future at a summit in Brussels, "but we are also better set up to deal with it."
The threat coincides with an upsurge in attacks by Muslim terrorists on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
Pakistani investigators probing a suicide blast at a top hotel in Islamabad said yesterday they were looking at possible links to pro-Taliban extremists near the border. Police said they were examining the head, a leg and an arm of the bomber who detonated explosives strapped to his body when he was prevented from entering the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on Friday, killing a security guard.