Published: Fri, August 10, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Taliban fighters storm Afghanistan’s Ghazni, seize parts of city

Taliban fighters storm Afghanistan’s Ghazni, seize parts of city

Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell, a spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, said that the insurgents had attacked "multiple government centers" in Ghazni, a populous city about 100 miles south of Kabul on a major national highway, but that they were driven back.

Taliban fighters hiding inside homes in the city's residential areas slipped into the streets attacking Afghan security forces, provincial police chief Farid Ahmad Mashal told The Associated Press.

After the assault, police conducted house-to-house searches to discover how the Taliban managed to infiltrate deep into the city, which is 120km south of Kabul. So far two civilians were wounded, but Hemat said the city was shut down and ambulances were not being sent out.

The attack on Ghazni, the first major urban assault since May, came as Afghan and US officials have been urging the Taliban to begin peace talks and agree to a second cease-fire after a successful three-day truce in June.

Mr. Mashal said 12 police had been wounded and there were more than 100 other casualties.

Officials said clashes between security forces and the Taliban started at around 2.00 a.m., forcing the closure of the main highway linking Ghazni to Kabul, 150 km (95 miles) to the northeast.

The US said that the city remained under government control.

'Initial reports indicate minimal Afghan security force casualties, ' the U.S. spokesman said, adding that American forces deployed attack helicopters and conducted a drone strike in the response.

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US attack helicopters and drone aircraft provided government forces with air support. Air strikes called in to quash the offensive also killed dozens of Taliban, he said.

The Taliban have so far failed to take and hold any provincial center since they overran the northern city of Kunduz in 2015 before being driven off with the support of USA air strikes and Special Forces units.

"It is a show of presence", he said.

Another Taliban attack, on Thursday night in western Herat province, left six policemen dead in the district of Obe, according to the governor's spokesman, Gelani Farhad.

Residents who spoke to AFP said power has been cut to the area for hours since fighting erupted, with heavy gunfire ringing out across the city and a government building set on fire. The road from Kabul to Afghanistan's southern provinces was also closed because it runs through Ghazni.

Pompeo also said the role of foreign forces in Afghanistan would be on the table.

Separately from the Taliban, an Islamic State affiliate has also carried out dozens of deadly attacks in recent years, mainly targeting security forces and minority Shiites.

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