Taliban insurgent forces launched a fierce pre-dawn attack Friday on the eastern Afghan provincial capital of Ghazni, overrunning government buildings amid heavy fighting before being driven out by USA -backed Afghan forces, officials said Friday.
The attack on Ghazni, the first major urban assault since May, came as Afghan and USA officials have been urging the Taliban to begin peace talks and agree to a second cease-fire after a successful three-day truce in June.
Taliban fighters hiding inside homes in the city's residential areas slipped into the streets attacking Afghan security forces, provincial police chief Farid Ahmad Mashal told Associated Press.
Smoke rising into the air after Taliban militants launched an attack on the Afghan provincial capital of Ghazni on August 10, 2018. 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. He did not say how many were dead and how many were wounded.
There were also conflicting reports of casualties from government and Taliban officials.
Several bodies of dead Taliban fighters remained on the street after the government pushed back the Taliban from the city, the police chief said.
"We have discovered and transported 40 bodies from the area so far", Chinartu district Governor Faiz Mohammad said on August 9.
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Radmanish said at least 60 Taliban fighters were also killed in clashes at the base and elsewhere in the district.
Muhammad Radmanish, a spokesman for the ministry of defence, said 27 Afghan soldiers were killed and five wounded.
The Taliban issued a statement claiming to have captured "most of the government buildings inside the city".
Another resident, Yasan, said the Taliban were using loudspeakers at the mosque to warn residents to stay in their homes.
A statement from USA military headquarters in Kabul said fighting had ceased by 8.00 a.m. (0330 GMT) and Afghan forces had held their ground and maintained control of all government centers. The road from Kabul to Afghanistan's southern provinces was also closed because it runs through Ghazni.
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, and have seized control of several districts.
Pompeo also said the role of foreign forces in Afghanistan would be on the table.
The Taliban have so far failed to take and hold any provincial center since they overran the northern city of Kunduz in 2015 before being driven off with the support of US air strikes and Special Forces units.
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