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Taliban launches attack in Afghanistan; U.S. forces respond

11 August, 2018, 10:04 | Author: Lucille Rivera
  • Smoke rises into the air after Taliban militants launched an attack on the Afghan provincial capital Ghazni

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

Police special forces have been deployed to help block the Taliban advance on the city, an Afghan security official said. "There has not been a single minute of silence for the last eight hours", said a senior government official in Ghazni.

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

After a day of intense fighting, Afghan commandos and U.S. air strikes drove the group to the outskirts of the city.

The Taliban began the attack late Thursday from several positions around the city, provincial police chief Farid Ahmad Mashal told AFP. Also, an investigation was underway to determine how the insurgents managed to infiltrate so deep into the city, barely 120 kilometers (75 miles) south of the Afghan capital of Kabul. So far two civilians were wounded, but Hemat said the city was shut down and ambulances were not being sent out. He was anxious more wounded could be out there as the city was shut down and ambulances were not being sent out.

A spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani said the Taliban had suffered heavy casualties in the onslaught and confirmed the airstrikes.

Several bodies of dead Taliban fighters remained on the streets of Ghazni, the police chief said. "The Taliban are roaming everywhere in and around the city", shopkeeper Mohammad Haleem said.

Heavy fighting was ongoing as of Friday afternoon in the city, where Afghan and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces were engaging fighters "by air and ground", Noori said.

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Taliban has said in a statement that the group has stormed Ghazni City from different sides.

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

However, O'Donnell said initial reports indicated minimal casualties among security forces.

"I personally believe that every country in Asia including China has the right to talk about the presence of foreign forces in the country and it is the right of the Chinese government", said former Taliban commander Sayed Akbar Agha.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahdi claimed the fighters had captured the police headquarters among several key military installions and posts, killing dozens of security forces. He also told the AP over the phone that Taliban anti-aircraft fire downed the Afghan army helicopter.

All shops in the city were closed due to the fighting.

As the US and Taliban explore the next round of direct talks, attacks like the one Friday on Ghazni are a reminder of the pressure faced by Afghanistan's security forces.

Separately from the Taliban, an Islamic State affiliate carried out dozens of deadly attacks in recent years, mainly targeting security forces and minority Shiites.

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