Afghan Forces Battle Taliban for Ghazni for 4th Day

Afghan Forces Battle Taliban for Ghazni for 4th Day

According to the US military headquarters in Kabul, US aircraft conducted at least nine air raids over Saturday and Sunday.

Communication networks remained mostly down, and officials have been reticent to speak about the situation in the city, making any information hard to verify.

"The city became so unsafe", the 60-year-old Mustafa told The Associated Press while stopped briefly at a checkpoint where police searched for wounded Taliban fighters.

Afghan authorities insist the city will not fall to the Taliban and that Afghan forces are in control of key government positions and other institutions.

A reporter for news agency AFP in Ghazni said the Taliban were not hiding at all, but roaming across the city, where they are in control of several police checkpoints and have been setting fire to government offices.

Eyewitness accounts however contradict claims by the Afghan Ministry of Defense that reinforcements had arrived in the city and had joined the fight against the Taliban.

There was no confirmed word on casualties.

Seth Jones, a longtime watcher of Afghanistan and director of the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said it was unlikely the Taliban will be able to hold populated areas of Ghazni for long. It had supplied body bags to the provincial hospital and was ready to provide more assistance.

Nearby residents said that numerous prisoners were militants who were quickly armed by their comrades before joining the battle. The success of the militants' assault has come as a blow to the government of President Ashraf Ghani, which has now deployed an extra 1,000 troops.

Insurgents infiltrated people's homes and slipped out into the night to attack Afghan forces.They also destroyed a telecommunications tower on the city's outskirts, cutting off all landline and cell phone links to the city and making it hard to confirm details of the fighting.

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First, this is a city, and the focus of USA strategy now - and going forward - is to be sure that the government controls cities. The videos could not be independently verified by Reuters but they generated heavy commentary by social media users that underlined the shock caused by the attack.

O'Donnell said there was no threat the local government would collapse, but "clearing operations are ongoing and sporadic clashes with the Taliban, particularly outside the city, continued".

NBC News has also reported that State Department officials have begun preliminary talks with the Taliban ahead of formal peace negotiations, but neither the US government nor the Taliban would confirm that to Task & Purpose.

Over 194 Taleban militants were killed during the four-day clashes.

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She said to get to Kabul they had to travel through extremely unsafe areas where security forces and Taliban were embroiled in heavy clashes.

Uzbekistan´s special envoy for Afghanistan Ismatulla Irgashev also attended the meetings, officials said.

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.

The onslaught on Ghazni is the latest attempt by the Taliban to overrun an urban centre, and comes as pressure increases on the insurgents to begin peace talks with the government to end the almost 17-year-old war.

But Daniel Markey, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, said US policymakers should be concerned.

Another witness, Abdul Wasih, 59, said his son was wounded in the leg by a mortar attack Sunday that killed five of his close relatives.

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