KABUL, Afghanistan, August 17, 2018 (News Wires) - The Afghan president visited the southeastern city of Ghazni on Friday, a week after the Taliban in a surprise attack managed to infiltrate deep into the key provincial capital and capture several areas of it.
Two rockets hit inside the city as President Ashraf Ghani held a meeting with elders at a nearby mosque, witnesses said. A third rocket landed in a nearby river, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
There were no injuries and Ghani was never in any danger. No one claimed responsibility for firing the rockets.
The Taliban hung on in Ghazni for nearly five days before US-backed Afghan forces flushed them out in what were some of the fiercest battles with the insurgents in recent months that killed scores of Afghan troops and civilians.
Security was on high alert as Ghani arrived by helicopter in Ghazni, the capital of Ghazni province, just 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the capital, Kabul. Mohammad Khan, the deputy of the country's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, accompanied Ghani on the trip.
KABUL, Afghanistan, August 14, 2018 (News Wires) — The spokesman for the Defence Ministry in Kabul says the Taliban have overrun a military base in northern Afghanistan, killing 17 soldiers and wounding at least 19 troops.
Ghafor Ahmad Jawed says the insurgents overrun the base late on Monday night in Faryab province, in the district of Ghormach, after besieging it for three days.
The local provincial council chief, Mohammad Tahir Rahmani, says 43 troops were killed and wounded in the attack but didn't give a breakdown.
He says the Taliban attack succeeded in taking control of the base, known as Camp Chinaya, which housed about 140 Afghan troops.
Rahmani says the base fell to the Taliban after the soldiers resisted the three-day onslaught. He says they didn't get any reinforcements and ran out of ammunition, food and water.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in Faryab. He says 57 Afghan soldiers surrendered to the Taliban while 17 others were captured in battle. He says eight military Humvees were seized.
Afghan officials say security forces have pushed back the Taliban from Ghazni and are now trying to flush the insurgents from the city's outskirts.
The operations come on the fifth day after a massive Taliban attack on the provincial capital of Ghazni.
Hundreds of people have fled the fighting in Ghazni, which has killed about 100 members of the Afghan security forces and at least 20 civilians.
Nasart Rahimi, a deputy spokesman at the Interior Ministry, says security forces were searching every inch of Ghazni for Taliban fighters on Tuesday.
Abdul Karim Arghandiwal, an army media officer in southeastern Afghanistan, says military helicopters are supporting the ground forces' operations in Ghazni.
KABUL, August 12, 2018 (Reuters) - Taliban insurgents attacked police headquarters and other government buildings in Ghazni in central Afghanistan on Sunday and were threatening to seize control of the city, with the main highway now heavily mined, local lawmakers and residents said.
U.S. aircraft conducted at least four air strikes but details of the fighting were unclear as most of the city’s telecoms masts were destroyed in fighting over recent days.
But lawmakers from Ghazni who managed to talk to some residents said Taliban were in control of much of the city after launching an initial attack in the early hours of Friday.
“Only the governor’s office, police headquarters and intelligence agency’s compound are in the hands of the government and Taliban are pushing to take them,” said Chaman Shah Ehtemadi, a lawmaker from Ghazni.
The attack on Ghazni, a strategic city on the main highway linking Kabul with Afghanistan’s south, was the most serious blow to the government since the insurgents came close to overrunning the western city of Farah in May.
Mohammad Rahim Hasanyar, a member of the provincial council, said heavy fighting was continuing in several areas of the city and Afghan forces were in defence mode.
“No one knows what the exact situation is because there is no communication service,” he said.
There was no confirmed word on casualties. Quoting a hospital official, Afghanistan’s 1TV television reported more than 90 members of the security forces and 13 civilians had been killed, with more than 100 wounded. It said there had also been heavy Taliban casualties.
With the highway heavily mined to prevent reinforcements from arriving, residents were largely blocked inside but some who managed to escape across fields on the city’s periphery said many government buildings were ablaze.
“There was burning and fire and dead bodies everywhere in the city,” said Abdul Wakil, a local resident who escaped told Reuters at a checkpoint into Kabul.
A senior security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Special Forces units had been sent to push the Taliban back from around the city but many fighters were still inside the centre after going into hiding following their initial assault in the early hours of Friday.
The official said Afghan and U.S. aircraft had carried out strikes outside the city but many fighters were in residential areas, making it difficult for security forces to rely on air support.
U.S. military headquarters in Kabul said sporadic clashes were occurring and American aircraft had conducted five strikes on Saturday and four more on Sunday.
“The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces continue to hold their ground and maintain control of all government centers,” Lt Col Martin O’Donnell, U.S. Forces Afghanistan spokesman, said in an emailed statement.
The attack on Ghazni leaves the future of peace talks with the Taliban uncertain. The government had been considering a ceasefire over this month’s Eid al Adha holiday to match a similar truce during June’s Eid al Fitr holiday.
KABUL, August 12, 2018 (News Wires) - A delegation from the Afghan Taliban met officials in Uzbekistan during a five-day trip to the country last week to discuss issues including transport and power lines and peace in Afghanistan, the movement's political office said.
Mohamed Sohail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban's political office, said on Saturday Taliban representatives met Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdul Aziz Kamilov and Special Representative for Afghanistan Ismatulla Irgashev during the August 6-10 visit.
He said they "discussed current and future national projects such as security for railroad and power lines."
"Views were also exchanged with officials of Uzbekistan about the withdrawal of foreign forces and how to achieve peace in Afghanistan," he said.
The statement, issued as Taliban fighters were battling government forces for control of the central city of Ghazni, adds to a mixed series of signals since an unexpected three-day truce during the Eid al-Fitr holiday in June.
Taliban representatives have met US officials to talk about the framework for possible peace talks and the Western-backed government is considering offering a second ceasefire during the Eid al-Adha holiday later this month.
But at the same time, fierce fighting has continued in different parts of Afghanistan, inflicting heavy casualties on soldiers and police and threatening the security of parliamentary elections scheduled in October.
The attack on Ghazni, which controls a vital highway between the capital Kabul and southern Afghanistan, has given the insurgents their highest profile success since they came close to taking the western city of Farah in May.
The rail and power links from Uzbekistan are vital both for cross-border trade and for maintaining Afghanistan's shaky power supplies, which are already subject to frequent blackouts.
The Taliban, fighting to topple the Western-backed government and drive out international forces, have generally refrained from sabotaging vital infrastructure and have sought to reassure neighbouring countries about their aims.
A senior Taliban official said the movement had established a political office in the Uzbek capital Tashkent aimed at developing better ties and showing that they did not intend to support local insurgent groups.
KABUL, August 11, 2018 (MENA) - Several Taliban militants have been killed during airstrikes conducted by US forces in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan, Khaama Press news agency reported Saturday.
According to local officials, the latest sorties were carried out against Taliban hideouts in the vicinity of Nahr Siraj district, leaving at least 19 militants dead.
The officials added that several weapons belonging to the militants were also destroyed.
Taliban has not yet commented on the attack.
KABUL, August 10, 2018 (News Wires) - Afghan police said on Friday that more than 100 Taliban militants were killed and wounded after they attacked southern Ghazni province from four directions.
Four security personnel were also killed and several others wounded as the clashes continued for several hours, Ghazni police spokesman Col. Farid Ahmad Mashal told Pajhwok Afghan News.
Earlier, Mashal said Taliban waged attacks at 12:00 am midnight on security posts soon after entering the city from various directions.
The Taliban had called in fighters from central Maidan Wardak and southern Zabul province and they attacked security posts, the police headquarters and other military installations.