Taliban Launch Major Attack On Afghan City, Casualties

Taliban Launch Major Attack On Afghan City, Casualties

Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell, a spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, said that the insurgents had attacked "multiple government centers" in Ghazni, a populous city about 100 miles south of Kabul on a major national highway, but that they were driven back.

President Ashraf Ghani held a meeting with top commanders in Kabul to discuss the situation in Ghazni, where the Taliban appear to have repeated the tactics that nearly gave them control of the western city of Farah in May.

Ghazni police chief General Farid Ahmad Mashal said the Taliban seized several parts of the city, which has been under threat for months with heavy fighting in surrounding districts. 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.

Provincial public health directorate officials had earlier said the bodies of at least 16 people including two civilians have been shifted to the hospital along with at least 30 others who have sustained injuries. He was anxious more wounded could be out there as the city was shut down and ambulances were not being sent out. The Taliban claimed to have shot it down, Radmanish said it was not clear if the aircraft had been hit or crash-landed for other reasons.

"The Taliban are dropping missiles near residential and commercial areas".

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

Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan Liu Jinsong said on Wednesday the level of distrust between the Afghan government and the Taliban is a key obstacle in the way of achieving peace in the country and that this issue has created serious challenges.

Officials said Afghan special forces were also being deployed to the southeastern city of Ghazni after the latest attempt by the Taliban to capture an urban centre, with the assault coming as pressure builds on the insurgents to enter peace talks.

US attack helicopters aided Afghan forces and there was a drone strike, he added.

"It is a show of presence", he said.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, asserted that 46 Afghan soldiers died in the clashes at the base and a number of checkpoints and "not killed in Taliban detention centers". He also told the AP over the phone that Taliban anti-aircraft fire downed the Afghan army helicopter.

Another Taliban attack, on Thursday night in western Herat province, left six policemen dead in the district of Obe, according to the governor's spokesman, Gelani Farhad.

There were conflicting reports from residents and local officials, however, with some reporting that Taliban fighters were still roaming parts of the city and that gunfire continued throughout the day, while frightened residents hid in their homes.

The highway from Kabul to Ghazni, and from Ghazni heading further south, was closed on Friday.