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Taliban storms strategic Afghan city

10 August 2018

The Taliban launched a brazen attack on the strategic Afghan city of Ghazni, south of the capital Kabul, in the early hours of Friday, seizing a number of key buildings and trading fire with security forces.

The 203rd Thunder Corps Director of Operations Gen. Mohammad Alam Nejrabi said the Afghan National Defense and security Forces have repulsed the attack, inflicting heavy casualties on the militants.

Taliban stormed Ghazni City - in the center of Afghanistan - 148 kilometers southwest of Kabul, at around 2am Kabul time on Friday.

At least one Afghan soldier had been killed and seven others wounded in the fighting in the southeastern city of Ghazni, a provincial governor spokesman told AFP on August 10.

The city was in lockdown and fighting continued throughout the day Friday, with sporadic bursts of gunfire from Taliban fighters who had hunkered down in elevated positions inside Ghazni from which they were shooting, some residents said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear for their safety.

A spokesperson said the attack was "another failed Taliban attempt to seize terrain, which will result in yet another eye-catching, but strategically inconsequential headline".

Airstrikes called in to quash the offensive also killed dozens of Taliban, Mashal said.

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

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

The brazen assaults by the Taliban, who have been gaining more ground in their annual spring offensive and who have shrugged off the government's latest offers of a cease-fire and negotiations, underscore the difficulties Afghan forces face in battling the relentless insurgency on their own in efforts to end the almost 17-year war.

Dead bodies of Taliban fighters remained on the street after the exchange, provincial police chief Farid Ahmad Mashal told the Associated Press news agency.

The attack underlines the heavy losses still being suffered by security forces as they fight the Taliban insurgents.

The insurgents have also so far ignored an offer by Ghani in February of unconditional peace negotiations.

In May the Taliban attacked the western city of Farah.

However there are tentative signs that diplomatic efforts to bring the insurgents to the table for peace talks may be starting to bear fruit.

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.

Taliban storms strategic Afghan city