Taliban launches brazen attack on strategic Afghan city of Ghazni

10 Августа, 2018, 14:10 | Author: Kelly Blake
  • Smoke rises into the air after Taliban militants launched an attack on the Afghan provincial capital Ghazni

United States (US) forces launched airstrikes on Friday to counter a major Taliban assault on an Afghan provincial capital, where terrified residents cowered in their homes amid explosions and gunfire as security forces fought to beat the insurgents back.

It said around 150 attackers had been killed or wounded but gave no estimate of casualties for civilians or security forces.

The attack on Ghazni city began overnight on Friday.

Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish said the army had helped the police and that the city was brought under control of government forces.

US warplanes, drones, and helicopters came to the aid of the Afghan forces before they managed to repulse the Taliban assault.

United States forces responded with attack helicopters and a drone strike, according to US Forces Afghanistan spokesman Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell.

O'Donnell said the fighting ceased at around 8 a.m. Kabul time.

By mid-morning, sporadic gunfire could still be heard in city, some residents said. The attack on a strategic city straddling the main route between the capital Kabul and southern Afghanistan demonstrated the Taliban's strength amid increased speculation about a possible ceasefire during the Eid religious holiday this month.

After repulsing the attack, police conducted house-to-house searches for any remaining Taliban fighters. An investigation was also underway on how the insurgents had managed to infiltrate so deep into the city, barely 120 kilometers (75 miles) south of the Afghan capital of Kabul.

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Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed parts of the city had been seized and scores of people killed.

The police chief said clashes are ongoing in Khogyani, Khwaja Omari and Zanakhan areas on the outskirts of Ghazni City.

Officials said Afghan special forces were also being deployed to the southeastern city of Ghazni after the latest attempt by the Taliban to capture an urban center, with the assault coming as pressure builds on the insurgents to enter peace talks. Bodies of 39 Taliban fighters were recovered from beneath a bridge in the southern edge of the city.

The Taliban have so far not confirmed being behind the earlier attack in Herat in which at least six policemen were killed at a district checkpoint.

A spokesperson said the attack was "another failed Taliban attempt to seize terrain, which will result in yet another eye-catching, but strategically inconsequential headline".

A USA -led coalition drove the Taliban from power after Al-Qaeda militants whose leaders were being sheltered in Afghanistan carried out the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Afghan forces have been struggling to hold back the resurgent militant group since the withdrawal of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation combat troops at the end of 2014.

The attack followed a similar assault on Farah in May, when fighters came close to overrunning the city in western Afghanistan.

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.

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