Surprise Taliban Attack Leads To Days Of Fighting, Hundreds Of Deaths

Taliban storm jail in battle for key Afghan city

The Taliban's surprise attack Friday on the city of Ghazni has now killed around 100 members of Afghanistan's police and security forces and between 20 and 30 civilians, Afghan officials said Monday.

TV and radio stations were set on fire and heavy fighting was reported around key government installations in the city centre.

Defense Minister Bahrami said additional forces have arrived in Ghazni city and more troops have been mobilized from the other province as well to clear the city from the presence of the militants.

It was a major show of force by the Taliban, who infiltrated deep into this strategic city barely 120 km from capital Kabul.

Sunday, residents fleeing Ghazni told local media rebels controlled most of the city, and fighting was raging around the office of the provincial governor and provincial police headquarters.

Over the past months, insurgents have seized several districts across Afghanistan, staging near-daily attacks on security forces, but have been unable to capture and hold urban areas.

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

"That said, clearing operations are ongoing and sporadic clashes with the Taliban, particularly outside the city, continue", he added. "The Taliban have failed in reaching their goal", he added.

Bahrami did not give a breakdown of the casualties but Wais Ahmad Barmak, the interior minister, said that about 70 of the dead security forces were police officers.

In regards to the casualties of the militants, Bahrami said at least 194 militants have been killed so far, including 12 of their senior commanders.

"[Ghazni's residents] have seen their city turn into a battlefield since Friday morning. parties across the conflict need to ensure that access to medical services is not denied and respect for medical facilities and staff is upheld", he said in a statement.

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The United States has sent military advisers to aid Afghan forces and carried out airstrikes against the insurgents.

The United Nations has expressed its concerns for the civilians caught up in the fighting in Ghazni.

The United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation formally concluded their combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of 2014, but have since then repeatedly come to the aid of Afghan forces as they struggle to combat the resurgent Taliban.

President Ashraf Ghani is said to be considering a cease-fire offer to the Taliban for the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which starts August 21.

"Medication at the main hospital is reportedly becoming scarce and people are unable to safely bring casualties for treatment", Dr. Rik Peeperkorn, the acting U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, said in a statement.

The attack on Ghazni, the heaviest blow struck by the Taliban since they came close to overrunning the western city of Farah in May, has hit hopes of peace that sprouted after a surprise three-day truce during June's Eid Al-Fitr holiday.

With residents reporting power remained out in the city, she said the Red Cross was able to reach the hospital on Monday during a brief lull in fighting, providing almost 200 litres of fuel for its generator and medical supplies for over 100 people.

Earlier this year, the US sent more military advisers to Afghanistan. Martin O'Donnell, spokesperson for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan.

Concentrating Afghan army units will make them less vulnerable to attack and will allow them to counter-attack any Taliban offensives, Qasimi told T&P in a July 31 email before the Taliban's recent victories.

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

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