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The Taliban recently launched a long-promised spring offensive and has carried out attacks in the southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan. The Taliban and other insurgent groups retain bases in safe havens across the border in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas.

A Taliban mortar attack Monday in eastern Kunar province left three Afghan civilians dead and eight wounded. The intended target was a U.S. base, Combat Outpost Honaker Miracle, but the four mortars missed it, NATO said.

“Our Afghan national security and coalition forces are working diligently to counter the recently announced Taliban spring offensive,” said Afghan National Army Maj. Shereen Agha.

The coalition’s director of public affairs, U.S. Rear Adm. Vic Beck, said, “Each of these heinous attacks turns support away from their cause and strengthens the resolve of the people against them.”

NATO and the United States hope to start slowly relinquishing control for security to Afghan forces, with the eventual goal of handing over responsibility at the end of 2014. President Obama has said the United States, with about 100,000 troops on the ground, will begin a gradual drawdown in July — with the number to be determined by the situation at the time.

Associated Press writer Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this article.