Published: Wed, August 15, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Afghan forces battle Taliban in key city for third day

Afghan forces battle Taliban in key city for third day

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

"It is over and the city is taken", said a man standing outside his home, with several Taliban fighters nearby.

The Taliban say they entered the military base in Ajristan district with heavy and light arms and arrested 25 Afghan army commandos.

Ghazni - less than two hours by road from Kabul - has been under threat from massing Taliban fighters for months, with residents saying the complex nature of the attacks was unprecedented in its scale.

The thousands of Western forces still there are focused on providing support and training to Afghan forces and carrying out counter-terrorism operations. That said, clearing operations are ongoing and sporadic clashes are occurring.

Groups of armed Taliban militants stormed the city overnight on Friday, setting fire to a number of checkpoints after engaging in deadly clashes with government forces.

"The Taliban have failed in reaching their goal", said Col.

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Afghan forces were still battling the Taliban in parts of Ghazni on Saturday, a day after the insurgents launched a multi-pronged assault on the eastern city. He added that 194 insurgents, including 12 Taliban leaders, were killed - with fighters from Pakistan, southern Russia's region of Chechnya and various Arab countries among the dead.

Insurgents entered Ghazni from several directions late on Thursday night, attacking media offices and damaging a telecommunications tower, effectively shutting off mobile service to the city as of Friday afternoon - making information about the fight hard to verify.

Fighting flared in seven neighborhoods of Ghazni, including three pockets within a half-mile of the governor's residence, said Nasir Faqiri, a member of the provincial council.

Their son and two daughters were wounded by shrapnel from an airstrike on the Taliban near a mosque. "We have not witnessed such a large scale attack by the Taliban before", said Andar. Bodies wrapped in sheets lay in open wooden coffins in the hospital. It was unclear how many other civilians had been killed or wounded.

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

Insurgents entered Ghazni from several directions late Thursday night.

Afghan army chief General Mohammad Sharif Yaftali told a news conference Sunday in Kabul his forces were conducting counter-offensives to evict Taliban fighters from the city.

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The Paktia convoy is not however the only convoy on its way to Ghazni.

He did not say whether USA aircraft, which had helped Afghan forces resist the initial attack on Friday, had conducted any strikes against the Taliban. The government had been considering a ceasefire for the upcoming Eid al Adha holiday, similar to a truce in June over the Eid al Fitr holiday.

The move was welcomed by some in Kabul, where pressure is mounting to engage the insurgents and end the almost 17-year-old war.

The U.S. -led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation mission has carried out airstrikes in support of Afghan forces.

The provincial government media office in a statement confirmed the airstrike and the death toll of the Taliban militants during the airstrikes.

Still, there was no indication from either side that progress toward substantive talks between the Taliban and the government was made. It also shifted A-10 attack planes and other aircraft from striking Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan.

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