Soldier Killed, Several Injured In Major Taliban Attack In Afghanistan

  • Soldier Killed, Several Injured In Major Taliban Attack In Afghanistan

Soldier Killed, Several Injured In Major Taliban Attack In Afghanistan

Taliban fighters have attacked Ghazni, Afghanistan's eastern provincial capital, leaving dead and wounded before Afghan forces pushed them out of the city, officials said.

But with Taliban fighters believed to be hiding in residential areas, it was unclear whether the government had full control of the city.

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.

It said around 150 attackers had been killed or wounded but gave no estimate of casualties for civilians or security forces.

An Afghan military helicopter had crashed during the battle, though an army spokesman said it was not clear if it had been shot down.

Sporadic gunfire continued to echo amid intermittent clashes, with officials telling residents to stay in their homes as Taliban fighters roamed the streets. He said three Taliban had been killed and eight wounded. "Another failed attempt by Taliban to seize terrain, while creating strategically inconsequential headlines", it continued.

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

Ghazni police chief General Farid Ahmad Mashal said the Taliban seized several parts of the city, which has been under threat for months with heavy fighting in surrounding districts.

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.

"Initial reports indicate minimal Afghan security force casualties", the USA spokesman told AFP, adding that American forces deployed attack helicopters and conducted a drone strike in the response.

More than 1,000 Taliban fighters struck at night, shelling homes and destroying police checkpoints.

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

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, a Taliban attack Thursday night in western Herat province left six policemen dead in the district of Obe, said the governor's spokesman there, Gelani Farhad.

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

Washington indicated a change in its longstanding policy in June when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was prepared to "support, facilitate and participate" in talks. USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces remain in Afghanistan mainly in a supporting and training role.