Published: Sun, August 12, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Afghanistan: dozens dead as Taliban attack Ghazni, officials say

Afghanistan: dozens dead as Taliban attack Ghazni, officials say

Police on Friday said more than 100 Taliban militants were killed and wounded after they attacked this capital city of southern Ghazni province from four directions.

Defence Ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish later said the army supported police and the city was now under control of government forces. The city is strategically located along the main route between southern Afghanistan and the country's capital, Kabul.

City hospital administrator Baz Mohammad Hemat said two wounded civilians were brought in for treatment.

Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell, a spokesman for USA forces in Afghanistan, said American forces and US attack helicopters assisted Afghan troops in pushing back the Taliban during the night's multiple attacks in Ghazni.

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However, sporadic gunfire continued to echo into the afternoon amid intermittent clashes, with officials telling residents to stay in their homes as scattered Taliban fighters roamed the streets.

"There are Taliban militants in all roads and streets of the city, but they are facing strong resistance from government forces", he said.

The Taleban began the attack late on Thursday from several positions around the city, provincial police chief Farid Ahmad Mashal said.

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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U.S. Forces Afghanistan spokesman Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell said U.S. forces responded using attack helicopters and drones. "In addition, U.S. aircraft conducted a show of presence". USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces remain in Afghanistan mainly in a supporting and training role.

By midday Friday, O'Donnell said that fighting was continuing inside Ghazni, prompting the USA forces to return American attack helicopters and fighter jets to the area soon after they were initially pulled back. The spokesperson said that a group of Taliban fighters who had made their way into the city were holed up near the provincial police headquarters and were firing on the building, CNN reported. "Our defense and security forces are in full control of the city", Rahimi said.

The three were killed by an attacker on foot in Parwan Province on August 5, the deadliest attack on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation soldiers in several months.

A US Congressional watchdog, SIGAR, said in a report past year the losses were "shockingly high" but Afghan authorities no longer release overall casualty data. Police special forces have also been deployed to help block the Taleban advance on the city, an Afghan security official said. The Taliban have rebuffed offers of negotiations with the government but have held one preliminary round of direct talks with Alice Wells, Washington's top diplomat for South and Central Asia, including Afghanistan.

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The assault is the latest insurgent attack in the country since the Afghan government unilaterally called off a ceasefire that it had in place for Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

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