Sunday, 21 October, 2018

Afghanistan: dozens dead as Taliban attack Ghazni, officials say

The attack on Ghazni comes as the Taliban faces growing pressure to agree to peace talks with the Afghan government to end the 17-year war The attack on Ghazni comes as the Taliban faces growing pressure to agree to peace talks with the Afghan government to end the 17-year war
Pablo Mccormick | 10 August, 2018, 19:09

The 203rd Thunder Corps Director of Operations Gen. Mohammad Alam Nejrabi said the Afghan National Defense and security Forces have repulsed the attack, inflicting heavy casualties on the militants.

The Taliban claimed they had downed the "enemy" helicopter in Ghazni but Radmanish said it was not immediately clear if the helicopter had been hit or crash landed due to other reasons.

The attack came amid growing hopes of talks to end 17 years of war in Afghanistan and less than two weeks before the Eid al-Adha festival, when the Western-backed government in Kabul had been considering offering a ceasefire.

Several bodies of dead Taliban fighters remained on the street after the government pushed back the Taliban from the city, the police chief said.

Taliban stormed Ghazni City - in the center of Afghanistan - 148 kilometers southwest of Kabul, at around 2am Kabul time on Friday.

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At least eight civilians and seven government security personnel were injured, provincial government spokesman Mohammad Arif Noori Ghazni told the BBC.

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

Another resident, Yasan, said the Taliban were using loudspeakers at the mosque to warn residents to stay in their homes. Air strikes called in to quash the offensive also killed dozens of Taliban, he said.

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

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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USA attack helicopters and drone aircraft provided government forces with air support.

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

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed parts of the city had been seized and scores of people killed. He also told the AP over the phone that Taliban anti-aircraft fire downed the Afghan army helicopter.

There were conflicting reports from residents and local officials, however, with some reporting that Taliban fighters were still roaming parts of the city and that gunfire continued throughout the day, while frightened residents hid in their homes.

The US Military in Afghanistan in a short statement said "U.S. Forces responded with close-air support this morning in Ghazni". With the outer defences breached, the insurgents seized control of several districts, advancing to within a few hundred metres of the governor's office and police headquarters.

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