USA launches airstrikes as Taliban attack Afghan city

USA launches airstrikes as Taliban attack Afghan city

USA launches airstrikes as Taliban attack Afghan city

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

The Taliban is said to be controlling most of the 18 districts in Ghazni province.

"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.

Helmand is among the relatively volatile provinces in South of Afghanistan where the anti-government armed militants are actively operating in some of its districts and often carry out terrorist related activities.

The ambush happened about 80km from Ghazni city.

"What wouldn't be helpful would be if the Uzbek efforts to facilitate lines of communication with the Taliban are not closely coordinated with the Afghan government", he said.

Afghanistan's Army Chief of Staff Mohammad Sharif Yaftali could travel to Ghazni province on Sunday in order to take control of the ongoing battle, military officials said. USA air support was also used to help Afghan troops retake Farah.

Smoke rising into the air after Taliban launched an attack on Ghazni, where terrified residents cowered in their homes amid explosions and gunfire as security forces fought to beat the insurgents back. "Our mujahideen are protecting the city of Ghazni".

Ghazni, a key city linking areas of Taliban influence barely 120 kilometres (75 miles) from the capital, Kabul, came under attack early Friday.

Ghazni - less than two hours by road from Kabul - has been under threat from massing Taliban fighters for months, with residents saying the complex nature of the attacks was unprecedented in its scale.

The Taliban issued a statement claiming to have captured "most of the government buildings inside the city", and that they killed and wounded 140 security forces.

The fighting has brought the traffic to a halt, stranding hundreds of passengers for the past three days. US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces remain in Afghanistan mainly in a supporting and training role in the 17-year-old war. Washington neither confirmed nor denied the meeting, but acknowledged Wells was in Qatar, where the Taliban maintain an office. It also shifted A-10 attack planes and other aircraft from striking Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan. Although Kabul is also supplied from Pakistan, the trade route to Iran and the Gulf supplies the northern half or the country with many essentials. At the height of the troop surge ordered by former U.S. President Barack Obama, thousands of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops were deployed in the city and province, including more than 2,500 from Poland.

In a statement to the Associated Press, Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban's political office, claimed that the bilateral talks had covered everything from worldwide troop withdrawal from Afghanistan to peace prospects and possible Uzbek-funded development projects that could include railway lines and electricity.

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