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Taliban Warns Kabul Residents Of More Attacks

Afghans run from the site of a suicide attack in the center of Kabul on May 9,

The Taliban has warned Kabul residents to stay away from "military centers" as they vowed more attacks in the Afghan capital.

In a statement published online on May 21, the militants said the coming attacks on "the enemy's military and intelligence centers" were part of an annual spring offensive.

"Therefore, to avoid civilian casualties and only cause damage to enemy military, we are asking Kabul residents to keep away.... We don't want even a single innocent civilian to be killed," the statement said.

It did not elaborate on what was meant by "military and intelligence centers."

The Taliban is stepping up attacks in an apparent rejection of calls for the militants to accept the Afghan government's February offer of peace talks.

The Taliban and an affiliate of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group have carried out a series of massive attacks in Kabul in recent months.

At least 25 people were killed on April 30 in twin suicide bombings claimed by IS militants, including nine journalists who had rushed to the scene of the first attack. Among the dead were two RFE/RL journalists and an RFE/RL trainee.

On May 21 in the southern province of Kandahar, officials said gunmen killed five members of a demining team that was clearing a segment for a planned gas pipeline. A sixth worker was missing following the attack in Maiwand district.

The deminers were working for the TAPI project intended to transport natural gas along an 1,800-kilometer route from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India, the officials said.

Zia Durrani, spokesman for the provincial police chief, said Taliban militants were behind the attack.

A Taliban spokesman said the incident was being investigated and that the victims were not wearing the usual uniform worn by TAPI workers.

The main Taliban organization in Afghanistan has declared its support for TAPI, calling it an "important project" for the country.

With reporting by AFP, dpa, AP, and Reuters