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Taliban launch attack on Afghan city, casualties: officials

AFP  |  Ghazni (Afghanistan) 

militants have launched an attack on an Afghan provincial capital and heavy fighting is under way as security forces try to beat them back, officials and witnesses said today.

At least one Afghan soldier has been killed and seven others wounded in the fighting in the southeastern city of Ghazni, told AFP.

Civilian houses and army checkpoints have come under mortar attack and the bodies of dozens of fighters are in the streets, he added.

The began the attack late Thursday from several positions around the city, told AFP.

Yasan, who lives in Ghazni, said the Taliban were using loudspeakers at the mosque to warn residents to leave their homes.

"Heavy explosions and gunfire can be heard. We are terrified," Yasan said in a post.

Police special forces have been deployed to help block the Taliban advance on the city, an Afghan said.

The Taliban issued a statement claiming to have captured "most of government buildings inside the city".

"So far 140 enemy forces have been killed or wounded," the group said.

It was the latest in a series of attempts by the Taliban over the past three years to capture urban centres.

Afghan forces have been struggling to hold back the resurgent militant group since the withdrawal of NATO combat forces at the end of 2014.

In May the Taliban attacked the western city of After a day of intense fighting, Afghan commandos and US air strikes drove the group to the outskirts of the city.

The attack on comes as the Taliban faces growing pressure to agree to peace talks with the to end the 17-year war.

It has so far ignored Ashraf Ghani's offer of unconditional peace negotiations.

The Taliban has long insisted on direct talks with the has repeatedly refused, saying negotiations must be Afghan-led.

But there are tentative signs that diplomatic efforts to kick-start talks are starting to bear fruit.

indicated a change in its longstanding policy in June when US said the was prepared to "support, facilitate and participate" in talks.

Pompeo also said the role of foreign forces in would be on the table. Last month Taliban representatives met US officials for talks in

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

First Published: Fri, August 10 2018. 09:50 IST