U.S. advising Afghan forces in battle for eastern city

U.S. advising Afghan forces in battle for eastern city

Taliban fighters tried to overrun a provincial capital in Afghanistan early on Friday, hiding inside homes before slipping into city streets during the night to attack security forces and killing at least 14 policemen before being pushed back, officials said.

Mohammad Farooq meanwhile said: "The city is under the complete control of Afghan security forces.

However, sporadic gunfire continued to echo into the afternoon amid intermittent clashes, with officials telling residents to stay in their homes as scattered Taliban fighters roamed the streets.

Ghazni - less than two hours by road from Kabul - has been under increasing danger from massing Taliban fighters for months, with reports suggesting insurgents had already infiltrated the city.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the insurgents had taken the district centre of Khwajaumari, north of the city, and several areas in other districts of Ghazni province.

Rezaye said additional reinforcements had been rushed to Ghazni late Friday, after United States forces deployed attack helicopters and launched at least one drone strike to push back the Taliban fighters.

Short videos circulating on social media, purported to be from Ghazni, showed a number of heavily armed Taliban patrolling in the city with a large plume of smoke and flames coming out from the town. While in control of the city, fighters destroyed multiple government facilities, seized military equipment, executed opponents and freed prisoners from the city's jails.

The Afghan government and the Taliban offered sharply different accounts of Saturday's fighting.

Government radio and television was shut down and only Radio Shariat, a Taliban station, was broadcasting. The Taliban said they expect another round of talks.

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Taliban forces have been making inroads in several parts of Afghanistan with major offensives in recent months.

But the Taliban appeared to have seized large parts of the city and held them despite a blistering assault by Afghan troops backed by US helicopter gunships, fighter jets and drones. "Our mujahideen are protecting the city of Ghazni".

Mustafa's wife, Razia, said they had no food, water or and electricity for four days.

Representatives from Afghanistan's Taliban militant group have held talks with senior officials in Uzbekistan, reportedly discussing a range of issues including transport, power lines, and the prospect of peace in war-torn Afghanistan.

Since late past year, the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group has also established a foothold in Afghanistan's eastern and northern regions, worsening the security situation there.

US military headquarters in Kabul said sporadic clashes were occurring and American aircraft had conducted five strikes on Saturday and four more on Sunday.

There have so far been no reports of casualties but according to sources clashes between insurgents and security forces from the convoy are ongoing. The government had been considering a ceasefire for the upcoming Eid al Adha holiday, similar to a truce in June over the Eid al Fitr holiday.

Earlier this year, the USA sent more military advisers to Afghanistan.

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