Published: Tue, August 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Heavy fighting in Ghazni as Afghan forces battle Taliban

Heavy fighting in Ghazni as Afghan forces battle Taliban

Elsewhere in the eastern province of Ghazni, Taliban fighters tried to overrun the provincial capital after attacking security forces and killing at least 14 police officers in an overnight attack on Friday.

Fighting flared in seven neighborhoods of Ghazni, including three pockets within a half-mile of the governor's residence, said Nasir Faqiri, a member of the provincial council.

The attack on Ghazni, which controls a vital highway between the capital Kabul and southern Afghanistan, has given the insurgents their highest profile success since they came close to taking the western city of Farah in May.

"You can stay downstairs if you want to - or leave, it's OK - but we are going to fight from your home against the police", she said the Taliban told her.

He said that despite the fact that army reinforcements were on the outskirts of the city, they have made no advance to move within.

Uzbekistan is seen as a possible peace broker between the Afghan government and the Taliban, favoring good relations with Kabul and contacts with the Taliban political office in Doha.

Humanitarian officials report that the heavy fighting has resulted in more than 100 civilian casualties, said United Nations deputy spokesman Farhan Haq.

But lawmakers from Ghazni who managed to talk to some residents said the Taleban were in control of much of the city after launching an initial attack in the early hours of Friday (Aug 10).

Communications with the city have been cut off, thus obscuring the situation, although at a press conference held in the capital, Army Chief of Staff Sharif Yaftali said that the strategic areas of the city were still under government control.

Insecurity recently increased dramatically in Ghazni province, which led to the Independent Election Commission delaying parliamentary elections in the province.

The Afghan military said a clearance operation targeting Taliban fighters was ongoing, insisting they remained in control of key government offices.

Short videos circulating on social media, purported to be from Ghazni, showed patrols by a number of heavily armed Taliban, with a large plume of smoke and flames coming out from the city.

However, a reporter for The New York Times who entered the city Saturday morning found insurgents confidently in control at every intersection.

O'Donnell, the US military spokesman, said the Taliban achieved nothing from the Ghazni assault "except another eye-catching, but inconsequential headline". After a day of intense fighting, Afghan commandos and USA air strikes drove the group to the outskirts of the city.

President Ashraf Ghani is said to be considering a cease-fire offer to the Taliban for the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which starts August 21.

Andrew Wilder, vice-president of Asia programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace, said the Taliban's attack on Ghazni was "a well-timed effort to demonstrate their military power to strengthen their negotiating position prior to another cease-fire and in the event of peace talks".

"We stand ready to create all necessary conditions, at any stage of the peace process, to arrange direct talks between the government of Afghanistan and Taliban movement", Mirziyoyev told an global peace conference in the Uzbek capital in March.

Like this: