Taliban 'pushed back' after attack on Afghanistan's Ghazni

10 Août, 2018, 14:09 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Smoke rises into the air after Taliban militants launched an attack on the Afghan provincial capital Ghazni

Sources from Ghazni province say that heavy clashes are ongoing between government forces and Taliban in Ghazni City - in the center of Afghanistan - 148 kilometers southwest of Kabul.

Administrator of the Ghazni city hospital, Baz Mohammad Hemat, said 14 security forces were killed and 20 security personnel were wounded.

The Taliban began the attack late Thursday, August 9, from several positions around the city, provincial police chief Farid Ahmad Mashal said.

A report in 2017 by SIGAR, a U.S. Congressional watchdog, said the losses were "shockingly high" but Afghan authorities no longer release overall casualty data.

Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish said the army had helped the police and that the city was brought under control of government forces.

The brazen assaults by the Taliban, who have been gaining more ground in their annual spring offensive and who have shrugged off the government's latest offers of a cease-fire and negotiations, underscored the difficulties Afghan forces face in battling the relentless insurgency on their own in efforts to end the almost 17-year war.

Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell, a spokesman for USA forces in Afghanistan, said American forces and US attack helicopters assisted Afghan troops in pushing back the Taliban during the night's multiple attacks in Ghazni. "In addition, U.S. aircraft conducted a show of presence", Lt Col. Martin O'Donnell, spokesman for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan said in an emailed statement.

O'Donnell said the fighting ceased at around 8 a.m. Kabul time. Sporadic gunfire could still be heard in the city, where Afghan special forces have been deployed.

After repulsing the daring assault, police conducted house-to-house searches for any remaining Taliban fighters.

An investigation was also underway into how the insurgents had managed to infiltrate so deep into the city, officials said.

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Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed parts of Ghazni had been seized and scores of people killed.

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

The Taliban have so far not confirmed being behind the earlier attack in Herat in which at least six policemen were killed at a district checkpoint.

It was the latest in a series of attempts by the Taliban over the past three years to capture urban centres.

A US -led coalition drove the Taliban from power after Al-Qaeda militants whose leaders were being sheltered in Afghanistan carried out the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Afghan forces have been struggling to hold back the resurgent militant group since the withdrawal of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation combat forces at the end of 2014.

Earlier this year the Taliban briefly took the western city of Farah, and for periods in both 2015 and 2016 the militants overran Kunduz, in the north.

The Taliban have so far failed to take and hold any provincial center since they overran the northern city of Kunduz in 2015 before being driven off with the support of USA air strikes and Special Forces units.

It has so far ignored President Ashraf Ghani's offer of unconditional peace negotiations.

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