Taliban continue offensive to seize Ghazni

Heavy fighting in Ghazni as Afghan forces battle Taliban

Analysis: 14 dead in attempted Taliban city assault

The Taliban on Sunday continued with their offensive to seize control of the strategic easter Afghan city of Ghazni, the third day in a row on which their forces battled government troops supported by United States airstrikes.

Information was hard to obtain because the Taliban destroyed a telecommunications tower, cutting electricity and mobile phone service to the area.

Gen. Sharif Yaftali, army chief of staff, says all strategic and government offices in Ghazni are still under government control.

"The central government in Kabul said the situation in Ghazni was under their control, but we managed to contact officials in Ghazni who said that fighting was underway in areas surrounding Ghazni", said the parliamentarian.

Naseer Ahmad, a member of the provincial assembly, told Anadolu Agency that fighting resumed this morning in Ghazni after a brief respite, following the coordinated assaults on the city by the Taliban militants two days ago.

Last week, Afghan security forces reportedly rescued scores of Afghan Uzbeks who had declared their allegiance to IS when they came under attack by Taliban fighters in northern Afghanistan, not far from the border with Uzbekistan.

"Intense fighting is still ongoing in Ghazni city".

The talks focused on a range of issues, including the withdrawal of worldwide forces from Afghanistan and Uzbek development projects in Afghanistan, a Taliban official said in a statement to RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal.

In June, a three-day truce over the Eid al-Fitr holiday brought unprecedented scenes of unarmed Taliban fighters mingling with security forces in Kabul and other cities, offering a glimpse of peace and fuelling hopes of negotiations to end the war.

Government radio and television was shut down and only Radio Shariat, a Taliban station, was broadcasting. It said there had also been heavy Taleban casualties.

"In Ghazni, only the police headquarters, governor's office and a few departments are under Afghan forces' control - the rest are under the Taliban fighters' control", he added.

Taliban political chief Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai represented the insurgents in the four-day talks that ended Friday.

Another resident, Yasan, said the Taliban had used loudspeakers at the mosque after entering the city to warn residents to stay in their homes.

Khair Mohammad, a police officer in neighbouring Maidan Wardak province, told the AP he was searching all vehicles coming from Ghazni and looking for any wounded Taliban. Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell, a spokesman for USA forces in Afghanistan, said Afghan forces were engaged in a "cleanup operation", while acknowledging for the first time that "some US advisers were on the ground".

USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces remain in Afghanistan mainly in a supporting and training role in the 17-year-old war.

But the Taliban have so far ignored Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's offer of unconditional peace negotiations even though their representatives met USA officials in Qatar last month and are to hold another meeting next month.

Earlier this year, the US sent more military advisers to Afghanistan.

Latest News