Intense fighting in Afghan city Ghazni as Taleban press their offensive

Saul Bowman
August 15, 2018

"Views were also exchanged with officials of Uzbekistanabout the withdrawal of foreign forces and how to achieve peace in Afghanistan", he said".

Among the injured were four Afghan troops who were hurt when their helicopter crash-landed during the fighting, said Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish.

"Only the governor's office, police headquarters and intelligence agency's compound are in the hands of the government and Taliban are pushing to take them", said Chaman Shah Ehtemadi, a lawmaker from Ghazni. "Morale is sinking. There aren't enough soldiers and police in the city right now to resist", Mr. Faqiri said.

The Taliban frequently exaggerate their battlefield gains and downplay losses incurred during fighting.

The Taliban claim to have seized parts of the city, while Afghan officials insist the situation is under control.

"Afghan security forces in the next two days will be able to restore peace and stability to Ghanzi and reopen the highway to enable our countrymen to travel from south and west to Kabul", vowed the army chief.

The Afghan military said a clearance operation targeting Taliban fighters was ongoing, insisting they remained in control of key government offices.

He confirmed Taliban attacks on "multiple government centers" and noted the involvement of US aircraft in support of Afghan troops, who he said were holding their ground. It was unclear how many other civilians had been killed or wounded.

"The city became so unsafe", the 60-year-old Mustafa told The Associated Press while stopped briefly at a checkpoint where police searched for wounded Taliban fighters.

The Taliban launched a major attack on Afghanistan's Ghazni city on Friday.

Yaftali repeated the allegations, after a gap of several months because recent wide-ranging talks between the two countries have eased mutual tensions and decreased terror allegations against each other.

It was not possible to verify the claims because the Taliban destroyed a nearby communications tower, cutting off cellphone and landline access to the city.

U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Martin O'Donnell, a spokesman for the U.S. -led military coalition in Afghanistan, told reporters that initial reports suggested "minimal" casualties among Afghan forces.

"Our mujahideen are protecting the city of Ghazni", AFP reported Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid as saying in a message to journalists on Saturday. All shops were closed, they said, as was the highway from the capital of Kabul to Afghanistan's southern provinces that runs through Ghazni.

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. The government had been considering a ceasefire over this month's Eid al Adha holiday to match a similar truce during June's Eid al Fitr holiday.

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