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Taliban assault on Ghazni repelled by Afghan, U.S. forces

By Sheetal Sukhija, Central Asia News
10 Aug 2018, 23:20 GMT+10

GHAZNI, Afghanistan - Several Taliban militants launched a massive assault on Afghanistan’s Ghazni city in the dead of the night, hoping to lay siege on a key provincial capital in war-torn country. 

Local officials in Afghanistan said that hundreds of armed militants stormed Ghazi city, trying to overrun the provincial capital - which lies on the key highway between Kabul and Kandahar.

Officials said that the attack seemed strategic and planned as Taliban fighters were armed with heavy weapons and arrived in huge numbers to overpower security forces in the key Afghan city.

As militants stormed the city and opened sporadic gunfire, terrified residents hid inside their homes to avoid the gun battle and explosions, even as security forces engaged in clashes to push back the insurgents. 

Officials said that the militants killed at least 14 Afghan security forces in the city and left 20 soldiers injured.

As Afghan forces engaged militants in a battle n the ground, U.S. warplanes, drones and helicopters targeted groups of Taliban fighters and launched airstrikes.

A spokesman for U.S. Forces in Afghanistan said that as of Friday morning, fighting had 'ceased.’

After curtailing the attack, police conducted house-to-house searches for any remaining Taliban fighters.

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

The attack by Taliban came merely days after the group tried to launch a similar attack earlier in the week, after hundreds of armed Taliban militants attempted to cross into a key district in eastern Afghanistan overnight.

Taliban militants tried to storm into Azra district in Logar Province, which is about 50 miles south of Kabul but were met with strong resistance from Afghan Security forces.

Similar intense clashes ensued on ground and the battle raged on for hours, as Afghan security forces sought help from U.S. forces.

However, reports noted that the U.S. airstrike that followed, mistakenly targeted and pounded an Afghan police base.

The Provincial Council Chief Hamidullah Hamid said that “foreign forces" had mistakenly bombed two police checkpoints and killed "about 15 police.”

Attacks this week come at a time when the war ravaged country is said to be witnessing one of its bloodiest periods since the start of the war.

Afghanistan is not only facing an increasing number of attacks by both Taliban and ISIS, but the country is also preparing to hold elections in October, which have already been delayed several times.

However, in the run up to the election, the deterioration of the country’s security is said to have emboldened militants.

Afghan forces, that are now facing Taliban attacks in their defensive positions, is engaged in a multi pronged war, even as American and Afghan forces, both increase airstrikes in the country.

According to official figures, U.S. forces have dropped nearly 3,000 bombs across Afghanistan in the first six months of 2018.

This is said to be nearly double the number recorded during the same period last year and more than five times the number for the first half of 2016.

The United Nations has warned that as a result of the aggressive offensive against militants in the country, civilian casualties from aerial bombardments have increased considerably.

According to the United Nations mission in Afghanistan, airstrikes have killed 149 civilians and left 204 injured in the first six months of this year - which it said is a 52 percent increase from the same period last year.

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