Taliban 'pushed back' after attack on Afghanistan's Ghazni

Taliban fighters storm Afghanistan's Ghazni seize parts of city

Thirty Taliban fighters and one Afghan security forces' member were killed, according to the provincial government.

After fighting off the nighttime assault, police were conducting house-to-house searches and trying to work out how the Taliban infiltrated so deep into the city, which is barely 120km (75 miles) south of the Afghan capital of Kabul.

A brazen and bloody overnight assault Friday by the Taliban on a key provincial capital in central Afghanistan has increased pressure on USA -backed Afghan forces that are withering under relentless attacks, prompting President Ashraf Ghani to call an emergency meeting of his security officials.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense Gen. Mohammad Radmanish said the attack was carried out jointly by the militants from Maidan Wardak, Paktia, and Zabul provinces.

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

Hemat, the hospital administrator, said two wounded civilians were brought to the hospital.

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Local residents said Taliban fighters were walking openly in the streets in parts of the city. Forces-Afghanistan, which oversees American troops in the country, confirmed the attack via Twitter, calling it a "failed attempt" to capture territory. U.S.

USA attack helicopters aided Afghan forces and there was a drone strike, he added. He said three Taliban had been killed and eight wounded.

A statement from US 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 US military's Resolute Support mission said it had deployed attack helicopters and a drone to help repel the Taliban from Ghazni, which has about 150,000 residents.

Just last week, an attack on an army post in Uruzgan, a province bordering Ghazni, killed dozens of soldiers, adding to what one USA report called the "shockingly high" casualties taken ever since North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ended its main combat mission in 2014. "In addition, US aircraft conducted a show of presence", Lt Col. Martin O'Donnell, spokesman for US Forces-Afghanistan, said in an emailed statement.

Anticipation has also been mounting about the possibility of a government ceasefire announcement for the Islamic holiday of Eid-al Adha later this month. The Taliban have rebuffed offers of negotiations with the government but have held one preliminary round of direct talks with Alice Wells, Washington's top diplomat for South and Central Asia, including Afghanistan.

The assault comes as pressure builds on the insurgents to enter peace talks.

He added that a number of Afghan security personnel from the base remain missing following the Taliban attack on the base on August 3.

Gannon reported from Islamabad.



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