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Taliban launch major attack on Afghan city, casualties

10 August 2018

The Taliban launched a brazen attack on the strategic Afghan city of Ghazni, south of the capital Kabul, in the early hours of Friday, seizing a number of key buildings and trading fire with security forces.

"We can confirm that there were attacks last night on multiple government centers in Ghazni City, Ghazni province", Lt. Col. Martin L. O'Donnell, a spokesman for United States forces in Afghanistan, told TOLOnews.

He said the bodies of 39 Taliban soldiers were recovered beneath a bridge in the southern edge of the city.

Meanwhile, Ghazni Police Chief Farid Ahmad Mashal said the Ghazni City is under the control of government forces as he talked to TOLOnews at around 8:30am Kabul time.

Initial reports indicate minimal Afghan security force casualties, he said in a statement on Friday.

Hemat, the hospital administrator, said two wounded civilians were also brought to the hospital but that the city was shut down and that ambulances were not being sent out.

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

By mid-morning, sporadic gunfire could still be heard in the city, some residents said.

A statement from USA 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.

US attack helicopters and drone aircraft provided government forces with air support.

At least one Afghan soldier has been killed and seven others wounded in the fighting, provincial governor spokesman Arif Noori said.

A spokesperson said the attack was "another failed Taliban attempt to seize terrain, which will result in yet another eye-catching, but strategically inconsequential headline".

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The Taliban frequently exaggerate their battlefield gains and downplay losses incurred during fighting.

Afghan forces have been struggling to hold back the resurgent militant group since the withdrawal of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation combat troops at the end of 2014.

The attack on Ghazni, the first major urban assault since May, came as Afghan and US officials have been urging the Taliban to begin peace talks and agree to a second cease-fire after a successful three-day truce in June.

The insurgents have also so far ignored an offer by Ghani in February of unconditional peace negotiations.

Kabul-based analyst Haroun Mir said Friday's attack may have been aimed at securing maximum leverage before engaging in formal peace talks.

Anticipation has also been mounting about the possibility of a government ceasefire announcement for the Islamic holiday of Eid-al Adha later this month.

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Taliban launch major attack on Afghan city, casualties