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Taliban launches major attack on Afghan city, casualties
12 August 2018, 07:24 | Devin Moran
The insurgents exaggerate their battlefield gains and downplay losses incurred during fighting
Afghan troops were fighting from street to street in the city of Ghazni this morning after a massive pre-dawn assault by the Taliban broke the defences of the strategic provincial city and Islamic fighters advanced towards the centre.
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.
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.
Six other civilians were wounded in the explosion, which happened in Shulgar district, said Sher Jan Durrani, the spokesman for the provincial police chief.
The Taliban fighters set fire to the local TV building and also destroyed the telecommunications tower, located just outside the city, cutting all cellphone and land line access to Ghazni, said Ali Akbar Kasemi, a lawmaker from the city.
Heavy fighting was ongoing as of Friday afternoon in the city, where Afghan and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces were engaging fighters "by air and ground", Noori said. The road from Kabul to Afghanistan's southern provinces was also closed because it runs through Ghazni. USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces remain in Afghanistan mainly in a supporting and training role.
Afghan forces have been struggling to hold back the resurgent militant group since the withdrawal of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation combat troops at the end of 2014.
It has so far ignored President Ashraf Ghani's offer of unconditional peace negotiations.
By midday Friday, O'Donnell said fighting continued inside Ghazni, prompting the US forces to return American attack helicopters and fighter jets to the area after they were initially pulled back.
Afghanistan told the United States that Islamic State fighters who surrendered last week will be treated as prisoners of war, and not honored guests, despite the warm welcome they had initially received, a top U.S. general said on Wednesday.
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 Afghan government had unilaterally called off a ceasefire with the militant group that it had in place for Eid ul-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
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