Afghanistan 1stLd-Writethru 05-23
Taliban chief warns U.S.
A man identified on tape as the Taliban’s new top field commander warned Wednesday that new recruits were volunteering as suicide bombers and that fighters would continue their holy war until Western powers leave Afghanistan.
Violence struck throughout the country with two bomb blasts that killed four people, including a Finnish soldier in the usually quiet north. NATO said it attacked a meeting of Taliban leaders in the south, killing an unspecified number of militants.
Shuhabuddin Athul, a Taliban spokesman, played an audio tape over the telephone to an Associated Press reporter that Athul said was a recording of Dadullah Mansoor, brother and replacement of Mullah Dadullah, the top Taliban commander shot to death in a U.S. operation this month in southern Afghanistan.
The man on the tape said Taliban fighters were ready to avenge his brother’s death and would "pursue holy war until the occupying countries leave."
"They will pursue their attacks against occupying countries and the (Afghan) government," he said in a first public statement. "The number of suicide attackers is increasing. ... All of the Taliban, we are ready to carry out suicide attacks, roadside bombs and ambushes against the Americans and the government."
There was no way to verify that the voice was really Mansoor’s.