Afghanistan: Taliban resume deadly assaults in Ghazni

15 August, 2018, 12:30 | Author: Diane Mills
  • Uzbekistan confirms meetings with Taliban delegation

A brazen and bloody overnight assault Friday by the Taliban on a key provincial capital in central Afghanistan has increased pressure on US -backed Afghan forces that are withering under relentless attacks, prompting President Ashraf Ghani to call an emergency meeting of his security officials.

Gen. Sharif Yaftali, the Afghan military's chief of staff, said Sunday that all strategic and government offices in Ghazni are still under government control.

TV and radio stations were set on fire and heavy fighting was reported around key government installations in the city centre.

He revealed that 20 airstrikes were carried out on Taliban positions on Sunday, causing an unknown number of causalities among the insurgents, who have been receiving backup from around the country.

This comes as the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev had earlier offered to host talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

A security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Pajhwok Afghan News a clash erupted between security forces and Taliban in the Angor Bagh area of Baghlan district late on Friday night.

In May, the Taliban attacked the western city of Farah.

After dawn Friday, Ghazni's residents were staying indoors and all shops in the city remained closed.

According to information released a year ago by the USA, the Afghan government controls about 56 per cent of the country and the Taliban 11 per cent, while the rest of the territory is under dispute.

The Tolo news agency said an Afghan military convoy on the way to Ghazni from Paktia had been ambushed about 80km from Ghazni city and had not been able to move further forward.

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Residents fleeing the city described streets littered with the unrecovered bodies of policemen, insurgents and civilians a day after the Taliban staged a large-scale attack in an effort to overrun the strategic city.

"The fact remains that the Taliban are unable to seize terrain and unable to match the Afghan security forces or our enablement, retreating once directly and decisively engaged", Lt Col Martin O'Donnell said.

The Afghan government has been struggling to fend off the Taliban and other militant groups since the withdrawal of most North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops in 2014.

Taliban fighters continued to roam the city, torching government offices, and were in control of several police checkpoints, as reinforcements deployed from Kabul slowly entered the area to confront the insurgents.

He said however that foreign fighters, including Pakistanis and Chechens, are involved in the battle for Ghazni.

Baz Mohammad Himmat, head of the civilian hospital in Ghazni, said at least 16 people had been killed in the fighting, including 14 soldiers and two residents.

Taking Ghazni, even briefly, would be the Taliban's most important victory yet. USA air support was also used to help Afghan troops retake Farah.

Defense ministry officials said Ghazni was under complete control of the security forces.

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

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