Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

Taliban battle into west Afghan city renews crisis

Taliban battle into west Afghan city renews crisis Taliban battle into west Afghan city renews crisis
Jodi Jackson | 16 May, 2018, 15:07

KABUL-Fighting raged Tuesday between Taliban militants and Afghan government forces for control of a provincial capital near the Iranian border, local officials said, in a confrontation shaping up as a stern test of US efforts to build an effective, local force.

NATO Resolute Support (RS) mission has arrived in western Farah province to support the Afghan led offensive against the Taliban, a statement from the RS mission said on Tuesday.

Fared Bakhtawer, head of the provincial council, said several security checkpoints in the city of Farah were overrun by Taliban fighters and that an intense gun battle was ongoing.

However, as special forces units, backed by both Afghan and USA air strikes rushed to counter the assault, the situation stabilized later in the day.

Mr. Khan, the Farah resident, said that the insurgents mostly left homes and businesses alone, but that they did burn several cafes that served alcohol, leaving notes warning their owners against doing so.

Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attacks in Ghazni. Reporters Without Borders called it the most lethal single attack on the media since the fall of the Taliban.

Social media images showed bodies of government troops on the streets in one area, while video images released by the government showed helicopters firing on a hill outside the city.

However, the attack adds to the problems facing President Ashraf Ghani's government, which has come under increasing public pressure over worsening security ahead of parliamentary elections due in October.

Salangi said more than 300 Taliban fighters were killed in the gunbattle. A total of 43 Taliban fighters were killed during the battles in three different districts, he added.

The Taliban continues its insurgency in Afghanistan with an assault on Farah City. Residents have warned repeatedly that the provincial capital was under threat.

Farah is a vast and sparsely populated province with tens of thousands of dollars generated under custom duty. "The Taliban are well equipped with heavy arms and night vision equipment".

"As we have seen over the last couple of days, the Taliban are unable to hold terrain during such isolated attacks and their unsuccessful raid attempts on district centers in Badakhshan, Baghlan, Faryab and Zabul".

Although the insurgents have been unable to take and hold any provincial centre, they are active across Afghanistan and the government has firm control over no more than 56 percent of the country, according to US estimates.

Taliban militants launched a major offensive at 2.40 am local time Tuesday (2210 GMT Monday) in a coordinated effort to seize full control of Farah, a provincial security source told Xinhua news agency.

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