Friday, 14 December, 2018

Taliban fighters storm Afghanistan’s Ghazni, seize parts of city

U.S. Central Command commander Gen. Jospeh Votel testifies at the Senate Committee on Armed Services on Capitol Hill in Washington Dozens of Afghan soldiers killed in attack on base
Kenny Thornton | 12 August, 2018, 19:22

Several bodies of Afghan soldiers have been found in a military base that Taliban militants stormed last week in the embattled southern province of Uruzgan, officials said on Thursday.

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. Speaking by from the city in the early afternoon, he said the government had so far failed to send reinforcements, and that if none arrived by nightfall, the city would fall.

Mashal said there were more than 100 other casualties but he could not give a breakdown of the dead and wounded.

The three were killed by an attacker on foot in Parwan Province on August 5, the deadliest attack on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation soldiers in several months. The spokesperson said that a group of Taliban fighters who had made their way into the city were holed up near the provincial police headquarters and were firing on the building, CNN reported.

The US said that the city remained under government control.

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

The Kabul-Ghazni highway was out of bounds for traffic and civilians during the clashes between the Taliban and government forces, the police said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement saying multiple attacks were launched overnight in Ghazni. Residents who spoke to AFP said power has been cut to the area since fighting erupted, with heavy gunfire ringing out across the city and a government building set on fire.

All shops in the city were closed due to the fighting.

Nasa spacecraft heads to sun for closest look yet
The launch was originally set for Saturday morning, but was scrubbed at the last minute due to technical glitches. The Parker Solar Probe is completely dependent on its directional heat shield for survival.

However, the attack on a strategic city straddling the main route between the capital Kabul and southern Afghanistan demonstrated the Taliban's strength just days before a possible ceasefire during this month's Eid al-Adha holiday.

There are about 14,000 USA ground troops in Afghanistan, making up the bulk of NATO's Resolute Support force.

US attack helicopters aided Afghan forces and there was a drone strike, he added.

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.

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.

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.

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

The Ghazni attack was the second assault on an Afghan city this year.

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