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Afghan Taliban vow attacks over Ramadan after being hacked

A man lies on a hospital bed after being wounded during one of two bomb attacks in the city of Baquba, about 50 km (31 miles) northeast of B
A man lies on a hospital bed after being wounded during one of two bomb attacks in the city of Baquba, about 50 km (31 miles) northeast of B

KABUL (Reuters) - The Afghan Taliban promised on Friday to continue attacks over Ramadan, rejecting as a fake an insurgent email promising a halt in violence over the coming Muslim holy month and saying it was the work of government intelligence.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the message sent in his name promising a temporary cessation of violence with next week's start of Ramadan was the latest incident in a simmering cyber war between intelligence agencies and the insurgents.

"In that mail the enemy losers have tried to influence attacks by mujahideen fighters," Mujahid said. "We strongly reject sending any such email on a stoppage of operations."

Afghan spy agency the National Directorate of Security has increasingly targeted the Taliban's sophisticated messaging network, which includes websites and email accounts, social media and spokesmen using noms de guerre.

The Taliban use Afghanistan's improving phone network to distribute anti-government messages and use Twitter to claim largely improbable successes as most foreign combat troops look to leave the country by 2014.

The Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan with an iron fist from 1996 to 2001, are seeking to overthrow the U.S.-backed government and end foreign occupation.

While Ramadan is usually a relatively quiet month for insurgent attacks marked mainly by the use of roadside bombs rather than direct assaults by armed fighters, Zabihullah said the month also carried extra religious significance for insurgents.

"During the holy month of Ramadan, jihad has major rewards. And mujahideen will continue to employ all their fighting techniques to mount attacks on the enemy," he said.

Taliban fighters in 2011 used car bombs to attack a British government cultural center in the Afghan capital over the Ramadan period, killing almost a dozen people.

This year the militants have stepped up attacks ahead of the Afghan summer months. Insurgents including a suicide bomber attacked a foreign logistics and supply company last week in Kabul, the latest in a string of daring assaults in the capital.

Kabul's police chief General Mohammad Ayoub Salangi said on Friday that security forces had arrested three people in a night raid and seized five suicide bomb vests.

(Reporting by Rob Taylor and Mirwais Harooni; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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