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

Evarado Alatorre
Agosto 10, 2018

Taliban insurgent forces launched a fierce pre-dawn attack Friday on the eastern Afghan provincial capital of Ghazni, overrunning government buildings amid heavy fighting before being driven out by USA -backed Afghan forces, officials said Friday.

Heavy fighting was ongoing as of Friday afternoon in the city, where Afghan and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces were engaging fighters "by air and ground", Noori said.

The attack around 80 miles south of Kabul was the militants' second all-out assault on a provincial capital this year and was one of their most audacious operations to date.

Afghan troops were fighting from street to street in the city of Ghazni this morning after a massive pre-dawn assault by the Taliban broke the defences of the strategic provincial city and Islamic fighters advanced towards the centre.

A local hospital said at least 14 Afghan policemen had been killed in the fighting, while security officials said there were dozens of dead Taliban fighters.

"Afghan forces held their ground and maintain control of all government centers".

Secret talks were recently held in Qatar between Taliban and U.S. officials after an unprecedented three-day ceasefire during Eid celebrations in June that was largely respected by both sides.

"This is yet another failed Taliban attempt to seize terrain, which will result in yet another eye-catching, but strategically inconsequential headline", he said. Dozens of Afghan soldiers and police had been killed and large quantities of weapons and equipment had been seized, he said.

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The attack comes as pressure continues on the Taliban to enter peace talks with the Afghan government.

'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.

Dead bodies of Taliban fighters remained on the street after the exchange, provincial police chief Farid Ahmad Mashal told the Associated Press news agency.

More than 1,000 Taliban fighters struck at night, shelling homes and destroying police checkpoints.

The attack underlines the heavy losses still being suffered by security forces as they fight the Taliban insurgents.

In June, a three-day truce over the Eid al-Fitr holiday brought unprecedented scenes of unarmed Taliban fighters mingling with security forces in Kabul and other cities, offering a glimpse of peace and fuelling hopes of negotiations to end the war.

The attack on Ghazni, the first major urban assault since May, came as Afghan and USA 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.

Last month, Taliban representatives met United States officials for talks in Qatar.

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