Afghan security forces have killed seventeen militants during separate combat operations in Afghanistan’s Helmand province over the past two days.
"During a series of operations, security forces have killed 17 Taliban members in Marja and Nad Ali districts of the province since Friday,” an Afghan security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Xinhua news agency on Saturday.
He added that the slain Taliban militants were planning to attack government buildings in different parts of Helmand province, which is situated 555 kilometers (344 miles) south of the Afghan capital Kabul. However, after a tip-off, Afghan security forces launched pre-emptive attacks and foiled their plans.
The Taliban have announced that their annual "spring offensive" across Afghanistan has begun and are threatening to target US-led NATO troops and their allies in the Asian nation.
Code-named Al-Farouq, the primary targets of the offensive will be "foreign invaders, their advisors, their contractors, all those who help them militarily and in intelligence," the militants said on their website.
"Al-Farouq spring offensive will be launched on May 3 all over Afghanistan,” the Taliban stated.
Insecurity continues to rise across Afghanistan despite the presence of about 130,000 US-led forces.
The United Nations announced on February 4 that 2011 was the deadliest year on record for Afghan civilians. The death toll rose eight percent compared to the year before and was roughly double the figure for 2007.
Overall, 3,021 civilians died in violence related to the war and 4,507 were wounded in 2011. Of the deaths, the UN attributed 77 percent to militant attacks and 14 percent to US-led foreign troops and Afghan forces. Nine percent of the cases were classified as unknown.