Published: Mon, August 13, 2018

Intense fighting as Taliban presses to take Afghan city

Intense fighting as Taliban presses to take Afghan city

The fight for the embattled eastern Afghan city of Ghazni entered its third day as Taliban militants and security forces engaged in heavy clashes on Sunday even after Kabul vowed the city was firmly under government control.

The Taliban pushed into the city, the capital of Ghazni province, from different directions on Friday and destroyed a telecommunication tower, cutting off landline and cell phone communications.

Mohammad Sharif Yaftali, the Afghan army's chief-of-staff, said the strategic city was not under threat of falling into the militants' hands.

Politicians from Ghazni who managed to talk to some residents said on Sunday that the Taliban were in control of much of the city after launching an initial attack in the early hours of Friday.

A reporter for news agency AFP in Ghazni said the Taliban were not hiding at all, but roaming across the city, where they are in control of several police checkpoints and have been setting fire to government offices.

A US military spokesman said Sunday that American aircraft had conducted five airstrikes on Saturday and 10 on Sunday.

The Taliban, fighting to topple the Western-backed government and drive out global forces, have generally refrained from sabotaging vital infrastructure and have sought to reassure neighbouring countries about their aims.

"The delegation exchanged views with Uzbek officials on the withdrawal of foreign troops and also explored ways for reconciliation in Afghanistan", Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban political office has told The Daily Times.

The Ghazni attack appears to be a well-orchestrated and high-profile challenge to the government and its US supporters.

Taliban representatives have met US officials to talk about the framework for possible peace talks and the Western-backed government is considering offering a second ceasefire during the Eid al-Adha holiday later this month.

O'Donnell said, however, that "tactically, operationally and strategically, the Taliban achieved nothing with this failed attack".

Short videos circulating on social media, purported to be from Ghazni, showed a number of heavily armed Taliban patrolling in the city with a large plume of smoke and flames coming out from the town.

Officials and residents told news agencies that the insurgents were attacking the police headquarters and other government buildings.

There were no confirmed reports on casualty numbers, but one Afghan TV channel quoted hospital officials as saying that more than 90 members of the security forces and 13 civilians had been killed, as well as an unknown number of Taliban fighters.

Like this: