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Afghan forces claim control of embattled city from Taliban

Taliban had claimed victory over Ghazni earlier today [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 August, 2018

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Afghan security forces have claim to be fully in control of an eastern city hours after Taliban said they had captured it.
Afghan security forces are in control of the eastern Afghan city of Ghazni, a day after Taliban fighters began their onslaught on the provincial capital and claimed to have captured it.

Najib Danish, the interior ministry spokesperson, said that fresh reinforcements had arrived in the area and were battling Taliban fighters north of Ghazni, and that the insurgents were in no position to take control of the city.

"The situation is fully under control. The city is not going to fall," Danish told a press conference, after confusion mounted over Ghazni's fate following hours of official silence.

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

"The fact remains that the Taliban are unable to seize terrain and unable to match the Afghan security forces or our enablement, retreating once directly and decisively engaged," Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell told AFP.

Insurgents entered Ghazni from several directions late Thursday night, attacking media offices and damaging a telecommunications tower, effectively shutting off mobile service to the city as of Friday afternoon - making information about the fight difficult to verify.

An MP from Ghazni urged caution following Danish's press conference, saying heavy clashes continued to rage between the two sides.

"Intense fighting is still ongoing in Ghazni city. The prison is under attack from several directions, they are trying to free the prisoners," said Nafisa Azimi by telephone from Kabul.

"Fear is spreading in Ghazni as the day ends, the Taliban might intensify their attack as it gets dark."

Danish said at least 25 security forces had died in the fighting along with 150 Taliban fighters. At least one media worker from a local broadcaster was also killed.

Taliban had claimed victory earlier today in the fight for the embattled city, saying their forces were in control of Ghazni after routing Afghan troops.

Earlier this month, the UN released a report showing a record number of civilians killed in the first six months of 2018, with militant attacks and suicide bombs the leading causes of death.

The toll of 1,692 fatalities was one percent more than a year earlier and the highest for the period since the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) began keeping records in 2009.

The record death toll came despite an unprecedented ceasefire by Afghan security forces and the Taliban during Ramadan that was largely respected by both sides, UNAMA said.

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