US launches airstrikes as Taliban attack Afghan city

Elias Hubbard
August 10, 2018

Taliban militants have launched an attack on an Afghan provincial capital and heavy fighting is under way as security forces try to beat them back, with terrified residents cowering in their homes amid explosions and gunfire.

The US forces in Afghanistan confirm that there were attacks on multiple government centers in Ghazni City on Thursday night.

Afghan troops were fighting from street to street in the city of Ghazni this morning after a massive pre-dawn assault by the Taliban broke the defences of the strategic provincial city and Islamic fighters advanced towards the centre.

On August 9, Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish said 27 Afghan soldiers were killed and five wounded in the assault.

Sporadic gunfire continued to echo, with officials telling residents to stay in their homes as Taliban fighters continued to roam the streets. "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. "Another failed attempt by Taliban to seize terrain, while creating strategically inconsequential headlines", it continued.

Radmanish said at least 60 Taliban fighters were also killed in clashes at the base and elsewhere in the district.

The attack on Ghazni, the first major urban assault since May, came as Afghan and USA 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.

Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell, a spokesman for USA forces in Afghanistan, said American forces and US attack helicopters had assisted Afghan troops in pushing back the Taliban during the night's multiple attacks in Ghazni.

In Ghazni, the attack began around 2 am (local time) with intense gunbattles raging and fires burning in several shops in the city's residential areas, provincial police chief Farid Ahmad Mashal told The Associated Press. After a day of intense fighting, Afghan commandos and United States air strikes drove the group to the outskirts of the city.

The attack came amid growing hopes of talks to end 17 years of war in Afghanistan and less than two weeks before the Eid al-Adha festival, when the Western-backed government in Kabul had been considering offering a ceasefire.

Taliban leaders have ignored an offer by the government of direct peace negotiations. "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.

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.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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