Afghan security forces have killed seventeen Taliban militants in a cleanup operation in western Afghanistan, Press TV reports. Provincial deputy police chief Mohammad Ghaws Malyar told Press TV on Saturday that Afghan soldiers and police killed the 17 Taliban militants on Friday in a heavy exchange of fire in the Bala Buluk district of Farah province, which is situated 650 kilometers (405 miles) southwest of Kabul. He added that two Afghan soldiers were killed and another was wounded in the battle. The Taliban have announced that their annual "spring offensive" across Afghanistan has begun and are threatening to target US-led NATO troops and their allies. Code-named Al-Farouq, the primary targets of the offensive will be "foreign invaders, their advisors, their contractors, all those who help them militarily and in intelligence," the militants said on their website. "Al-Farouq spring offensive will be launched on May 3 all over Afghanistan,” the Taliban stated. Insecurity continues to rise across Afghanistan despite the presence of about 130,000 US-led forces in the war-torn country. The United Nations announced on February 4 that 2011 was the deadliest year on record for Afghan civilians. The death toll rose eight percent compared to the year before and was roughly double the figure for 2007. Overall, 3,021 civilians died in violence related to the war and 4,507 were wounded in 2011. Of the deaths, the UN attributed 77 percent to militant attacks and 14 percent to US-led foreign troops and Afghan forces. Nine percent of the cases were classified as unknown.