Taliban launch attack on Afghan city, casualties

Taliban fighters storm Afghanistan's Ghazni seize parts of city

Taliban launch attack on Afghan city, casualties

In Ghazni, the attack began around 2 a.m. 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.

Police on Friday said more than 100 Taliban militants were killed and wounded after they attacked this capital city of southern Ghazni province from four directions.

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. 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.

The Taliban also suffered heavy losses, he said. In one location, bodies of 39 Taliban fighters were recovered from under a bridge on the southern edge of the city. Police special forces have also been deployed to help block the Taleban advance on the city, an Afghan security official said.

Officials said clashes between security forces and the Taliban started at around 2am, forcing the closure of the main highway linking Ghazni to the capital Kabul, 150 kilometers (95 miles) to the northeast.

Meanwhile, the bodies of three Czech soldiers killed in a suicide bombing claimed by the Taliban in Afghanistan arrived in Prague.

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The city of about 140,000 people was in lockdown as residents stayed indoors and reported sporadic gunfire.

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

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

The attack on Ghazni followed a similar assault on Farah in May, when insurgents came close to overrunning the city in western Afghanistan.

The Taliban are fighting the Western-backed government to restore their version of sharia, or Islamic law, after they were driven out by USA -led forces in 2001.

The insurgents 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.

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Taliban leaders have ignored an offer by the government of direct peace negotiations.

"It is a show of presence", he said.

Anticipation has also been mounting about the possibility of a government ceasefire announcement for the Islamic holiday of Eid-al Adha later this month.

The ongoing violence came amid the release of a United Nations report stating the number of Afghan civilians killed in the first six months of this year has reached a record high.

But there are tentative signs that diplomatic efforts to kick-start talks are starting to bear fruit.

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