The Taliban have called their deadly bomb attacks on the southern city of Kandahar a warning to NATO's top general that the insurgents are ready for the war's next major offensive in their heartland.
The series of bombings Saturday night demolished buildings and killed dozens — including 10 people at a wedding — and prompted the provincial governor to plead for more security in the area. Fearful residents said they had no confidence that either government or foreign troops can protect them.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said Sunday that the attacks proved the insurgents were still able to operate despite the buildup of Afghan and international troops in preparation for a push into Kandahar province.
A Taliban-linked Web site called the attacks in the south's largest city a "warning" to NATO's Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who has said coalition forces will target Kandahar later this year after driving the insurgents from a key stronghold in neighboring Helmand province.
"Gen. McChrystal has said that soon they will start their operations, and now we have already started our operations," Ahmadi told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "With all the preparations they have taken, still they are not able to stop us."