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Afghan Taliban delegation visits Uzbekistan to discuss peace, security

13 August 2018

"The situation is very dire at the moment", he said.

An army official in Kabul, Sharif Yaftali, told journalists Sunday that "strategic and key areas" of Ghazni are under control of the government but that insurgents had taken cover in populated areas, slowing efforts to drive them out.

The Taliban, fighting to topple the Western-backed government and drive out worldwide forces, have generally refrained from sabotaging vital infrastructure and have sought to reassure neighbouring countries about their aims. The government in Kabul insisted that Ghazni was under its control but residents reported fierce clashes in several districts of the city and streets strewn with corpses.

There was no confirmed word on casualties.

It has come despite recent Afghan and US efforts to promote peace talks and build on a successful three-day cease-fire in mid-June.

KABUL: 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.

An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier keeps watch at a checkpoint on the Ghazni highway, in Maidan Shar, the capital of Wardak province, Afghanistan August 12, 2018.

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Nearby residents said that numerous prisoners were militants who were quickly armed by their comrades before joining the battle.

The early morning's assault on Ghazni was the latest in a string of attempts by the Taliban to overrun urban centers since the Afghan government called off a unilateral cease-fire with the militant group that was in place for Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Islam's holy month of Rmadan.

Short videos circulating on social media, purported to be from Ghazni, showed patrols by a number of heavily armed Taliban, with a large plume of smoke and flames coming out from the city.

The videos could not be independently verified but they generated heavy commentary by social media users that underlined the shock caused by the attack.

A USA military spokesman said Sunday that American aircraft had conducted five airstrikes on Saturday and 10 on Sunday. One man, named Abdul Wakil, who reached a police check post outside the capital, told the Reuters news agency that he had seen "burning and fire and dead bodies everywhere in the city".

The Taliban have not taken a major provincial centre since they overran the northern city of Kunduz in 2015 and the assault on Ghazni was a major blow to the Western-backed government just weeks before parliamentary elections scheduled for October 20.

Afghan Taliban delegation visits Uzbekistan to discuss peace, security