Published: Fri, August 10, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Taliban launches brazen attack on strategic Afghan city of Ghazni

Taliban launches brazen attack on strategic Afghan city of Ghazni

The attack on Ghazni, the first major urban assault since May, came as Afghan and USA officials have been urging the Taliban to begin peace talks and agree to a second cease-fire after a successful three-day truce in June.

The attack comes as pressure continues on the Taliban to enter peace talks with the Afghan government.

The Ghazni attack began around 2 a.m. with intense gunbattles raging and fires burning in several shops in the city's residential areas, provincial police chief Farid Ahmad Mashal told The Associated Press.

Smoke rising into the air after Taliban militants launched an attack on the Afghan provincial capital of Ghazni on August 10, 2018.

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

"So far 140 enemy forces have been killed or wounded", the group said.

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

There were also conflicting reports of casualties from government and Taliban officials.

Several bodies of dead Taliban fighters remained on the streets of Ghazni, the police chief said.

He said the bodies of 39 Taliban soldiers were recovered beneath a bridge on the southern edge of the city.

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

'U.S. Forces responded with close-air support this morning in #Ghazni, ' the official account for US Forces in Afghanistan tweeted Friday.

The Taliban are fighting the Western-backed government to restore their version of sharia, or Islamic law, after they were driven out by US -led forces in 2001.

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

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement saying multiple attacks were launched overnight in Ghazni.

The Afghan Defense Ministry also told AP that one of its helicopters had crashed during the fighting but it was not clear if it had been shot down.

Another Taliban attack, on Thursday night in western Herat province, left six policemen dead in the district of Obe, according to the governor's spokesman, Gelani Farhad.

Clashes continued in Ghazni throughout the day and fighting temporarily closed the main highway linking the north and south of the country.

Ghazni, less than two hours by road from Kabul, has been under threat from massing Taliban fighters for months.

An Islamic State affiliate has carried out dozens of deadly attacks in recent years, mainly targeting security forces and minority Shiites.

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