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Taliban fighters storm Afghanistan’s Ghazni, seize parts of city
11 August 2018, 10:07 | Darnell Patrick
Smoke rises into the air after Taliban militants launched an attack on the Afghan provincial capital Ghazni
Afghan forces said they remained in control of the strategically-important city, but the militants reportedly came within a few hundred yards of several government buildings.
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.
The Taliban have launched a major night-time assault on the Afghan city of Ghazni, a provincial capital on the key highway between Kabul and Kandahar.
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.
Administrator of the Ghazni city hospital, Baz Mohammad Hemat, said 14 security forces were killed and 20 security personnel were wounded.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed that parts of Ghazni had been seized and that Taliban fighters had killed scores of people.
As the USA and Taliban explore the next round of direct talks, attacks like the one Friday on Ghazni are a reminder of the pressure faced by Afghanistan's security forces. Air strikes called in to quash the offensive also killed dozens of Taliban, he said.
After a day of intense fighting, Afghan commandos and United States air strikes drove the group to the outskirts of the city.
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"The Taliban are dropping missiles near residential and commercial areas".
Mohammad Rahim Hassanyar, a senator from Ghazni, said the operation to expel all Taliban fighters was "very slow".
Safiullah, a resident of Ghazni City, said the Taliban assailants climbed a marketplace soon after entering the city and started attacking the police headquarters from there.
"Asian countries including China are continuing their efforts for peace talks in Afghanistan and we warmly welcome their efforts and hope that these efforts finaly bring the Taliban to the negotiation table", said deputy spokesman to CEO Abdullah Abdullah Omaid Maisam.
The attack on Ghazni comes as the Taliban faces growing pressure to agree to peace talks with the Afghan government to end the 17-year war.
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, and have seized control of several districts. Washington has repeatedly refused, saying negotiations must be Afghan-led.
Anticipation has also been mounting about the possibility of a government ceasefire announcement for the Islamic holiday of Eid-al Adha later this month.
"His most likely move would be to revert to his earlier preference to more or less pull out of Afghanistan, leaving only a bare-bones counterterror presence, possibly secured by contractors", Markey added.
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