KABUL, (Reuters) – A top Taliban commander has said suicide attacks and roadside bombs would spearhead its new strategy against foreign troops, and hinted the movement could work with Afghanistan’s government if foreign troops left.
In an apparent policy shift, Taliban deputy leader Mullah Brother told a militant Website that the Islamic movement could cooperate with the government of President Hamid Karzai, rather than seek its ouster. “The matter can not be solved through war…the issue should be settled through understanding and talks,” he said.
In the past, the Taliban has vowed to topple Karzai’s government and drive out foreign forces.
Ousted from power in 2001, the al Qaeda-backed Taliban have made a strong come back since 2006, causing splits among the NATO alliance as some members appear reluctant to send their soldiers to areas where the militants are active.
In his interview, Mullah Brother refused to spell out all aspects of the Taliban’s new military strategy, but said: “Martyrdom attacks and roadside explosions will form major part of the such operations.” “Through our military commanders, local and central councils we are working on these tactics…which will be implemented across the country in the near future as the new military strategy,” the website quoted him as saying.
The date of the interview was not mentioned.
Brother served as a top Taliban military commander during the reign of the group until its ouster and is among the militants list wanted by the Afghan and U.S. governments.
Western military commanders say the Taliban have suffered heavy casualties in conventional battles with NATO and U.S.-led forces in recent years and instead have resorted mainly to suicide raids and roadside bomb blasts.
The Taliban carried out more than 140 suicide attacks last year, a record high in Afghanistan as the militants adopted tactics used with devastating effect by insurgents in Iraq.
Brother said suicide attacks were “very effective” against foreign and Afghan government forces.
Most of the casualties in such attacks have been civilians, who have also lost lives in operations by foreign troops hunting militants.
More than 11,000 people, including more than 350 foreign soldiers, have been killed in the past two years, the bloodiest period since Taliban’s removal.
The deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan has led some Western politicians to warn recently that Afghanistan could slide back into anarchy.
U.S.-led troops overthrew Taliban’s government in 2001 after it refused to hand over al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the suspected architect of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.