Published: Sun, August 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Dozens of Afghan soldiers killed in attack on base

Dozens of Afghan soldiers killed in attack on base

Heavy clashes are ongoing between between government forces and Taliban in Ghazni City, Afghanistan, TOLONews reported.

At least 39 insurgents were killed, while 14 police died and 20 were wounded in the fighting, said provincial Police Chief Farid Ahmad Mashal.

The Taliban launched an attack Friday on one of Afghanistan's key cities, seizing buildings and exchanging fire with security forces during an air and ground battle that led to USA forces' assistance.

After repulsing the daring nighttime assault, police were conducting house-to-house searches for stragglers and to discover how the Taliban infiltrated so deep into Ghazni city, barely 120 km south of the Afghan capital of Kabul. So far two civilians were wounded, but Hemat said the city is shut down and ambulances are not being sent out.

Mashal said there were more than 100 other casualties but he could not give a breakdown of the dead and wounded.

"Attacks were underway on the governor's office, the National Directorate for Security (Afghan intelligence agency) headquarters and other government offices", he said, adding that more than 140 Afghan soldiers were killed.

The Taliban also suffered heavy losses, he said.

Local residents said Taliban fighters were walking openly in the streets in parts of the city. Police special forces have also been deployed to help block the Taleban advance on the city, an Afghan security official said.

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After dawn Friday, Ghazni's residents were staying indoors and all shops in the city remained closed.

Owing to the increasing instability in Ghazni province, Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission recently deferred the upcoming parliamentary polls in the area.

A U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Martin O'Donnell, said in a statement e-mailed to RFE/RL on August 8 that the assessment was based on a review of footage from the strike and "firsthand accounts from Afghan security force leaders and members present during the incident".

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.

Taleban fighters also destroyed the telecommunications tower, located just outside the city, cutting all cellphone and landline access to Ghazni, according to Ali Akbar Kasemi, a lawmaker from the city. "In addition, United States aircraft conducted a show of presence".

The attack comes as pressure continues on the Taliban to enter peace talks with the Afghan government.

However, there are tentative signs that diplomatic efforts to bring the insurgents to the table for peace talks may be starting to bear fruit.

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

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