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Heavy fighting as Taliban attack western Afghan city

AFP  |  Herat 

Afghan aircraft today bombed positions in the western city of after the insurgents launched a major attempt to capture the provincial capital, with fearful residents seeking shelter from explosions and gunfire.

The attack -- the first major assault targeting a city since the launched their annual spring offensive -- began around midnight, with the militants capturing one urban district and parts of another, said local provincial

"Heavy fighting continues inside the city and aircraft have just started bombarding positions," she told AFP Tuesday from inside

Afghan officials said police special forces from and commandos from Herat had also been deployed.

"(The Taliban) will fail," vowed Najib Danish, who said both Afghan and foreign air forces were taking part in the fighting.

There was no immediate confirmation from NATO's mission in said at least 10 insurgents and two Afghan security force members had been killed so far.

"The situation is under control and will change by the end of the day," he said.

But inside the city residents reported clashes were continuing. "The situation is very bad," Satar Hissaini, a tribal elder in Farah, told AFP.

"Heavy fighting is going on and Taliban are in the city but the police headquarters and NDS (the agency) have not fallen to them," he said.

"NDS forces in their HQ are engaged in heavy clashes with the Taliban." Another provincial council member, Dadullah Qani, confirmed Hissaini's comments, the sound of gunfire and explosions audible as he spoke to an by telephone.

The noise has "filled the city", said one resident who gave his name as Bilal, adding that he could see smoke rising from the direction of a building housing the NDS.

At least some militants have been hiding in residential houses, making it difficult for Afghan forces to use heavy weapons, told Ariana News, adding: "But still we are taking back positions one by one".

The insurgents released a statement warning residents to stay inside their homes and "stay calm". They have also been posting images on they claim shows them inside the city.

Many radio and television channels in the province have stopped broadcasting, fearing for their employees' lives, according to

The Taliban are stepping up their spring offensive, in an apparent rejection of a peace talks overture from the government.

Farah is a poppy-growing province in an isolated region of There are plans for a section of the multi-billion-dollar TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and India) to traverse it, a project the Taliban have pledged to cooperate with.

But it has been the scene of intense fighting in recent years. In 2017 insurgents tried three times to overrun the capital, according to the Analysts Network.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, May 15 2018. 16:55 IST