Afghan forces confront Taliban militants in Ghazni days after brazen attack

Afghan security forces are engaged in intense fighting with Taliban militants in Ghazni, three days after th...

Posted: Aug 13, 2018 3:13 PM
Updated: Aug 13, 2018 3:13 PM

Afghan security forces are engaged in intense fighting with Taliban militants in Ghazni, three days after the start of an offensive on the strategic city that has so far killed more than 150 people, according to a local member of parliament.

Mohammad Arif Shahjahan, an MP from Ghazni, told CNN Monday Taliban fighters had taken control of key buildings, including the police headquarters and some government offices.

Afghanistan

Afghanistan war

Asia

Conflicts and wars

Continents and regions

International relations and national security

Middle East

Middle East and North Africa

National security

South Asia

Taliban

Terrorism

Terrorism and counter-terrorism

Terrorist attacks

Unrest, conflicts and war

Armed forces

Ghazni

Military

Military operations

Rebellions and insurgencies

North America

The Americas

United States

Many of the dead were security forces, he said, adding that many more had been injured, as fighting continued into its fourth day, despite government and US assurances that the assault had failed.

Taliban militants stormed the strategically important city Friday in an attempt to establish a base within easy access of the capital Kabul to the north, and roads to western and some southern provinces.

The move perhaps the most serious challenge to the government's hold in urban areas since the Taliban briefly occupied the city of Kunduz in 2015, and comes at a time when the Trump administration appears to be accelerating negotiations with an insurgency it has been fighting for 17 years.

According to a tweet from Afghanistan's Interior Ministry Sunday, Ghazni police had started a planned clearance operation in the city, in an attempt to push the militants out.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on his official Twitter account Sunday that he had chaired an emergency meeting to discuss the situation in Ghazni Province, and it was determined that further back-up was needed.

"After detailed review of the reports, the meeting decided that in order to consolidate operational gains, further reinforcements should be dispatched to the province on urgent basis," Ghani said.

There were reports of sporadic fighting over the weekend, but a spokesman for the Afghan National Army said Saturday the city was "under the complete control of Afghan security forces."

"Afghan National Army reinforcements are making their way to Ghazni city to help the Afghan National Police search and clear the city of insurgents that may still be hiding in the city," said Maj. Mohammad Farooq, an Afghan National Army 203rd Corps spokesman.

Dr. Rik Peeperkorn, the World Health Organization's (WHO) acting humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan, said in a statement that people have been unable to safely bring casualties to the city's main hospital for treatment.

"Residents of Ghazni City have seen their city turn into a battlefield since Friday morning, with fighting and clashes reportedly still ongoing," said Peeperkorn.

"Parties to the conflict need to ensure that access to medical services is not denied and respect for medical facilities and staff is upheld."

Friday assault

The fighting began at about 1 a.m. on Friday, when hundreds of armed fighters entered Ghazni and captured a number of key sites, according to Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban.

United States forces responded with attack helicopters and a drone strike, said US Forces Afghanistan spokesman Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell.

After intense fighting in the city's streets, Afghan and NATO forces were able to push the Taliban to the outskirts of the city Friday afternoon, according to Mohammad Radmanish, a spokesman for the Afghanistan Ministry of Defense.

US Forces Afghanistan called the offensive a "failed attempt" to seize territory.

"Tactically, operationally and strategically, the Taliban achieved nothing with this failed attack except another eye-catching, but inconsequential headline," said LT. Col. Martin O'Donnell, a spokesman for US Forces Afghanistan.

"The fact remains that the Taliban are unable to seize terrain and unable to match the Afghan security forces or our enablement, retreating once directly and decisively engaged."

O'Donnell said Sunday Afghan forces were in control of all government centers in the city.

It's unclear exactly how many people were killed in the fighting.

Ghazni Hospital Director Dr. Baz Mohammad Hemat said the death toll is between 120 and 160 people and includes both military and civilian casualties. Radmanish said more than 150 Taliban fighters were also killed in the battle. Mujahid said 140 Afghan soldiers were killed, though US authorities disputed that figure.

Ambitious attack

The assault on a major population center was one of the group's most ambitious military moves in years, and was further evidence that a violent stalemate between the government and the Taliban persists. In May, the insurgent group briefly overran the western city of Farah, but Ghazni is far more important and the scale of the attack much greater.

If the city fell to the Taliban, it would compromise the security of the capital and the eight provinces it borders.

However, while the Taliban is capable of controlling rural areas, the combination of Afghan troops with US air support has prevented its fighters from taking and holding population centers.

The assault is the latest insurgent attack in the country since the Afghan government unilaterally called off a ceasefire that it had in place for Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The Taliban, along with other militant groups such as ISIS, routinely attack military and civilian targets in the country.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 34211

Reported Deaths: 2125
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9761576
Lake3573186
Allen160069
Cass15877
St. Joseph126634
Elkhart126228
Hendricks116671
Hamilton115493
Johnson1097108
Madison58659
Porter53428
Bartholomew50834
Clark49741
LaPorte43023
Howard40428
Tippecanoe3933
Delaware38536
Jackson3821
Shelby37122
Hancock33127
Floyd31839
Boone31635
Morgan27824
Vanderburgh2662
Montgomery23817
White2338
Noble22821
Clinton2271
Decatur22431
Grant21022
Dubois1993
Harrison19422
Henry17211
Greene16924
Vigo1688
Dearborn16821
Monroe16712
Warrick16628
Lawrence15924
Miami1401
Putnam1367
Jennings1304
Kosciusko1271
Orange12622
Scott1193
Franklin1108
Ripley1086
Marshall1021
Carroll932
Daviess8516
Steuben832
Wayne785
Fayette777
Newton7710
Wabash772
LaGrange762
Jasper661
Washington521
Clay511
Jay500
Fulton491
Randolph473
Rush462
Pulaski460
Jefferson451
Whitley413
Starke393
DeKalb371
Sullivan351
Owen341
Brown331
Perry320
Wells310
Benton300
Knox280
Huntington272
Tipton251
Blackford252
Crawford240
Fountain212
Switzerland200
Spencer201
Parke170
Adams171
Posey160
Gibson152
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin110
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0167
West Lafayette
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 58°
Kokomo
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 54°
Rensselaer
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 52°
Fowler
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 52°
Williamsport
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 56°
Crawfordsville
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 55°
Frankfort
Broken Clouds
58° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 58°
Delphi
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 54°
Monticello
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 54°
Logansport
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 54°
Cooler, less humid weather continues Sunday
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events