USA called in as Taliban overrun Afghan city

10 August, 2018, 19:11 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Afghanistan's defence ministry said the army helped the police and that Ghazni city was now under control of government forces

Taliban fighters stormed a provincial capital in Afghanistan before dawn on Friday, exchanging fire with security forces and reportedly leaving several dead.

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.

After fighting off the nighttime assault, police were conducting house-to-house searches and trying to work out how the Taliban infiltrated so deep into the city, which is barely 120km (75 miles) south of the Afghan capital of Kabul.

Baz Mohammad Himmat, head of the civilian hospital in Ghazni, said at least 16 people had been killed in the melee, including 14 soldiers and two residents.

An Afghan military helicopter had crashed during the battle, though an army spokesman said it was not clear if it had been shot down. "There has not been a single minute of silence for the last eight hours", said a senior government official in Ghazni told Reuters early on Friday.

"This is yet another failed Taliban attempt to seize terrain, which will result in yet another eye-catching, but strategically inconsequential headline", he said.

Police special forces have also been deployed to help block the Taliban advance, an Afghan security official said.

Another resident, Yasan, said the Taliban were using loudspeakers at the mosque to warn residents to stay in their homes.


United States forces responded with attack helicopters and a drone strike, according to US Forces Afghanistan spokesman Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell.

The Taliban frequently exaggerate their battlefield gains and downplay losses incurred during fighting.

The attack on Ghazni, the first major urban assault since May, came as Afghan and US officials have been urging the Taliban to begin peace talks and agree to a second cease-fire after a successful three-day truce in June. After a day of intense fighting, Afghan commandos and U.S. air strikes drove the group to the outskirts of the city.

The assault comes as pressure builds on the insurgents to enter peace talks.

It has so far ignored President Ashraf Ghani's offer of unconditional peace negotiations. The US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces remain in Afghanistan mainly in a supporting and training role.

However, even while conducting preliminary discussions with USA officials, the Taliban have launched a series of operations that underscored their ability to inflict severe damage on Afghan forces.

An unprecedented truce in June brought fighting between security forces and the Taliban to a temporary halt, giving war-weary Afghans some welcome relief from violence.

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