Raw: Taliban Attack Marks Spring Offensive

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The Taliban unleashed a wave of attacks Monday across Afghanistan to mark the start of their spring offensive, storming a government building and striking a police checkpoint. Rockets also struck the NATO base at Bagram, causing minor damage. (May 12)

SHOTLIST:

AP Television - AP Clients Only

Jalalabad, Afghanistan - May 12, 2014

1. Afghan Army convoy arriving at the scene of the attack on government building

2. Soldiers getting off the vehicles

3. Various of armed soldiers preparing on the street

4. Soldier firing from a military vehicle

5. Locals in a house

6. More security forces arriving

7. Army soldier at a balcony ++GUN FIRE SOUND++

8. Soldier in military vehicle

9. Army soldier running towards justice department building

10. Smoke rising from the justice department building

STORYLINE:

Taliban fighters stormed a government building in Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, the most serious in a wave of attacks marking the start of the insurgents' annual spring offensive.

Following the confrontation in which two police guards and five civilians died, police surrounded the provincial justice ministry building and engaged in sporadic gunfire exchanges with the militants inside.

In the Taliban heartland in the south, an attack on a police checkpoint in Helmand province killed nine policemen.

Also Monday, rockets hit inside the grounds of the Kabul international airport but caused no damage.

Rockets also struck the NATO base at Bagram, just north of the Afghan capital, causing minor damage, the alliance said.

This year's Taliban spring offensive comes at a sensitive time, against the backdrop of a key presidential election.

Militants have also stepped up terror attacks to sow insecurity and weaken the government as international forces prepare to withdraw from the country by the end of this year.

Fewer than 30,000 U.S. troops remain on the ground in Afghanistan, the lowest number since the 2001 invasion.

Last summer, Afghan security forces took full responsibility for the country's defence, making this Taliban spring offensive an important gauge of how well they will face insurgent attacks once international forces are gone.

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