A top Taliban commander warned Wednesday that militants will carry out a wave of ambushes, suicide attacks and bombings in a new offensive against international troops.
Mullah Berader, said to be a top deputy to Taliban leader Mullah Omar, issued a statement saying the violent campaign will be launched Thursday against "invading forces" and Afghan officials supporting them.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, conveyed the statement in which Berader said Afghans feel the need to "defend themselves and the freedom of their country" now that America and NATO intend to send more troops to Afghanistan.
The United States is planning to send 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to deal with the country's growing insurgency, and U.S. military commanders have said they expect violence will increase in the coming months.
On Wednesday, Australia announced it will send more than 450 additional troops to Afghanistan to increase its force there to about 1,500. The Australian troops will help train local forces and enhance security ahead of Afghanistan's national elections in August.
U.S. President Barack Obama called Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to thank him for his country's commitment.
Also Wednesday, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced his country will temporarily increase its troop presence in Afghanistan by 700 - to a total of 9,000 troops - to help provide security during the elections.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military said Wednesday that troops killed 42 militants in three separate operations in the country's south.
The U.S. military said 23 militants were killed after troops came under attack while on patrol in Uruzgan province.
In a separate incident, nine militants were killed in a battle with Afghan and coalition forces in Helmand province. Troops there also discovered 100 kilograms of opium and 2,400 kilograms of a chemical used to make explosives.
And the U.S. military said coalition and Afghan forces killed 10 militants in fighting in Logar province, south of the capital Kabul.
In other violence, at least five German troops were wounded when a suicide bomber attacked their convoy in Kunduz province, north of Kabul. The attack came as German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the capital.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.