Over 100 killed in Taliban onslaught in Afghan town

Taliban storms strategic Afghan cityMore

Taliban political chief Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai represented the insurgents in the four-day talks that ended on Friday and included meetings with Uzbekistan's Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov as well as the country's special representative to Afghanistan Ismatilla Irgashev.

Another lawmaker, Amanullah Kamrani, the deputy head of the Ghazni provincial council said, "The situation is chaotic". It said there had also been heavy Taliban casualties.

Short videos circulating on social media, purported to be from Ghazni, show a number of heavily armed Taleban patrolling in the city with a large plume of smoke and flames coming out from the town.

But the Taliban simultaneously has not eased battlefield activities, making territorial advances and inflicting heavy casualties on government forces.

Likewise, most residents were trapped inside the city.

"Our commandos and Afghan army forces. are conducting a clearance operation as the Taliban have taken up positions in civilian houses", said Mohammad Radmanesh, a defence ministry spokesman, adding that security forces were in control of the city.

A spokesman for USA forces in Afghanistan also described the fight for Ghazni as a clearance operation, with sporadic clashes between security forces and insurgents punctuating relative calm.

Danish said more than 150 insurgents have been killed or wounded. He said the bodies of the Taliban fighters were found under a bridge in the southern part of Ghazni.

Almost 200 insurgents, many of them foreigners, have been killed, the government said.

Earlier on Saturday, the Taliban claimed victory in the fight for the embattled city, saying its forces were in control of Ghanzi after routing Afghan troops.

The offensive has been pursued with the aim of expelling government forces from the last areas in the city, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement. The government had been considering a ceasefire for the upcoming Eid al Adha holiday, similar to a truce in June over the Eid al Fitr holiday.

Coincidentally, the rescue of Afghan Uzbeks from the battle with the Taliban came just days after Dostum returned to Afghanistan and reconciled with Ghani's government. Islamabad denies it is helping the Taliban. US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces remain in Afghanistan mainly in a supporting and training role in the 17-year-old war. The Taliban said they expect another round of talks. It also shifted A-10 attack planes and other aircraft from striking Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan.

Losing Ghazni to the Taliban would essentially cut Afghanistan in half, closing its second-busiest trade route.

The Taliban were ousted from power in 2011 following a USA invasion and ongoing occupation of the country.

Information for this article was contributed by Maamoun Youssef of The Associated Press.

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