Taliban launch attack on Afghan city, casualties

Cheryl Sanders
August 12, 2018

The Taliban launched an attack Friday on one of Afghanistan's key cities, seizing buildings and exchanging fire with security forces during an air and ground battle that led to USA forces' assistance. There were still Taliban fighters who had hunkered down in elevated positions from which they were still shooting, the residents said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear for their safety.

"US Forces responded with close-air support this morning in #Ghazni". Police special forces have also been deployed to help block the Taleban advance on the city, an Afghan security official said.

"Another failed attempt by Taliban to seize terrain, while creating strategically inconsequential headlines", U.S. Forces-Afghanistan tweeted. He did not say how many were dead and how many were wounded.

A second government official said it was too unsafe for people to leave their homes and he had no immediate details on casualties. In May, insurgents overran the western city of Farah, but they left a day later amid counterattacks from the Afghan government and American airstrikes.

Earlier, Mashal said the Taliban waged attacks at 12am midnight on security posts soon after entering the city from various directions.

The attack on Ghazni underscored how volatile the security situation across Afghanistan remains less than three months before parliamentary elections in October.

Smoke rises from a residential area where gun battle is going on between Taliban and Afghan forces in Ghazni province, Afghanistan August 10, 2018.

The Taliban have stepped up attacks across the country since North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the United States formally ended their combat mission in 2014.

If the city were to fall to the Taliban, it would compromise the security of the capital and the eight provinces it borders.

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. "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.

Pompeo also said the role of foreign forces in Afghanistan would be on the table.

Last month, Taleban representatives met United States officials for talks in Qatar.

Kabul-based analyst Haroun Mir said Friday s attack may have been aimed at securing maximum leverage before engaging in formal peace talks. The militant group earlier said that hundreds of fighters had been involved and that government buildings, including the police headquarters, had been captured.

The Afghan government had unilaterally called off a ceasefire with the militant group that it had in place for Eid ul-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Other reports by iNewsToday