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Taliban Launches Spring Offensive in Afghanistan

Afghan security personal surround the area after Taliban fighters stormed a government building in Jalalabad, east of Kabul, May 12, 2014.
The Taliban launched its annual "spring offensive" Monday with a series of attacks across Afghanistan.

In the eastern city of Jalalabad, militants entered a provincial justice ministry building, triggering a shootout with police. Two policemen and at least four civilians were killed before the three attackers, including a suicide bomber, were killed.

In nearby Ghazni province, officials said militants attacked police checkpoints, killing at least three people, including one policeman.

And rockets hit Kabul's international airport and the NATO base at Bagram, just north of the Afghan capital. There were no reports of injuries in either attack.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks, which come at the start of an offensive announced last week on its website.

In a report on the insurgency released Monday, the International Crisis Group said the overall trend in Afghanistan was one of escalating violence and insurgent attacks, with the war increasingly "a contest between" insurgents and Afghan security forces.

The Brussels-based group said "historical feuds and unresolved grievances are worsening after having been, in some cases, temporarily contained by the presence of international troops."

International combat troops are set to complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of this year. Some forces could remain in the country after December 2014 in a training and advisory role if Afghan leaders approve a Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States.

U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban-led government in 2001.

An Afghan Defense Ministry called the Taliban offensive propaganda and said Afghan security forces will continue to ensure the security of the Afghan people.

Despite Taliban threats to disrupt the vote and a run-up of violence, Afghanistan's April 5 presidential election took place without any major attacks.

Final election results are due to be released on May 14, with a run-off election planned for next month, since no candidate is expected to win a majority.