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.
All shops in the city were closed due to the fighting.
Afghan troops were fighting from street to street in the city of Ghazni this morning after a massive pre-dawn assault by the Taliban broke the defences of the strategic provincial city and Islamic fighters advanced towards the centre.
The attack around 80 miles south of Kabul was the militants' second all-out assault on a provincial capital this year and was one of their most audacious operations to date.
There were still Taliban fighters who had hunkered down in elevated positions from which they were still shooting, the residents said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear for their safety.
Another resident, Yasan, said the Taliban were using loudspeakers at the mosque to warn residents to stay in their homes.
The Ghazni attack began around 2 a.m. with intense gunbattles raging and fires burning in several shops in the city's residential areas, provincial police chief Farid Ahmad Mashal told The Associated Press. "Another failed attempt by Taliban to seize terrain, while creating strategically inconsequential headlines", it continued.
Airstrikes called in to quash the offensive also killed dozens of Taliban, Mashal said.
The Taliban frequently exaggerate their battlefield gains and downplay losses incurred during fighting. Ghazni has been under threat from Taliban fighters for months.
Afghan forces have been struggling to hold back the resurgent militant group since the withdrawal of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation combat forces at the end of 2014. Taliban militants and insurgents belonging to the other groups have been active in Ghazni province, and Taliban fighters captured a district there and killed its governor in April.
The Taliban has long insisted on direct talks with the United States.
However there are tentative signs that diplomatic efforts to bring the insurgents to the table for peace talks may be starting to bear fruit.
He said China has always supported the issue of peace talks and that they "continue to facilitate the talks based on the principle of (it being) Afghan-led and Afghan-owned". "In addition, US aircraft conducted a show of presence", Lt Col. Martin O'Donnell, spokesman for US Forces-Afghanistan, said in an emailed statement.
It has so far ignored President Ashraf Ghani's offer of unconditional peace negotiations.
On August 6, the Financial Times reported that Chinese officials had reportedly met the Afghan Taliban several times in the past year.
After a day of intense fighting, Afghan commandos and U.S. air strikes drove the group to the outskirts of the city.
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