Published: Thu, August 16, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

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

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

The main road linking the Afghan capital city Kabul to the southern provinces including key Kandahar city and western region including Herat passes through Ghazni city, and if the Taliban militants were able to overrun Ghazni city and capture the road, the southern and western regions could be destabilized.

Diplomats in Kabul said the government had admitted being taken by surprise by the attack and after 72 hours with minimal public comment from the presidential palace, Ghani announced on Twitter that reinforcements would be sent to the city urgently.

Communication networks remained mostly down, and officials have been reticent, making any information hard to verify.

But the Taliban appeared to have seized large parts of the city and held them, despite a blistering assault by Afghan troops backed by USA helicopter gunships, fighter jets and drones.

Meanwhile, a suicide attacker detonated explosives near the office of Afghanistan's election commission in Kabul on Monday, where dozens of protesters had gathered, officials said.

A protest was taking place at the time. "The situation was very bad and all shops were closed", said Abdul Wakil, an eyewitness who fled from Ghazni.

"They especially want to show those backing the government in Kabul that the Taliban can't be ignored", said Omarkhil.

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

"According to sporadic reports from within the city, many families have reportedly taken shelter in their houses and are unable to leave their homes".

Residents also said the people in the city are running out of food - this in addition to not having contact with the rest of the country as cellphone services have been disconnected.

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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who helped persuade Trump last summer not to quit Afghanistan, says it's too early to render judgment on whether peace talks will emerge anytime soon.

People are facing "serious hunger", Enayat Nasir told the BBC.

"About 100 security forces have lost their lives and between 20 and 30 civilians have been killed", Bahrami told a press conference in Kabul.

Roshan Ghaznawi, one of the activists said all her relatives are in Ghazni and she has no information about them.

Late on Sunday, Mr Ghani said he was sending urgent reinforcements to the city "to consolidate operational gains".

Last year, there were reports that the son of Tahir Yuldashev, the powerful Uzbek leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, who was killed in a USA missile strike in Pakistan in 2009, was leading efforts to help expand IS influence in Afghanistan.

It accused the Taliban of using civilians as cover and said the group had "achieved nothing".

Confusion over one deployment of commandos headed for Ghazni also raised concerns, with local media reporting up to 100 special forces troops were missing.

Yesterday, Ehsanullah Taheri, the spokesman of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, a wide-encompassing body tasked with finding a path to peace with the government's armed opponents, said Uzbek officials had the Afghan government's approval for the meeting.

The onslaught on Ghazni is the latest attempt by the Taliban to overrun an urban centre, and comes as pressure increases on the insurgents to begin peace talks with the government to end the almost 17-year-old war.

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