Afghanistan: dozens dead as Taliban attack Ghazni, officials say

U.S. Central Command commander Gen. Jospeh Votel testifies at the Senate Committee on Armed Services on Capitol Hill in Washington

The defense ministry in Kabul said the attackers had been beaten back but were still present in one area of the city and had occupied civilian houses, from where they were still keeping up occasional fire on security forces clearing the area.

Provincial security chief Farid Ahmad Mashal says the dead bodies of at least 39 militants are left in the eastern parts of the city.

After the assault, police conducted house-to-house searches to discover how the Taliban managed to infiltrate deep into the city, which is 120km south of Kabul. Speaking by from the city in the early afternoon, he said the government had so far failed to send reinforcements, and that if none arrived by nightfall, the city would fall.

The attack followed a similar assault on Farah in May, when fighters came close to overrunning the city in western Afghanistan. He said three Taliban had been killed and eight wounded.

Mr. Mashal said 12 police had been wounded and there were more than 100 other casualties.

Several bodies of dead Taliban fighters remained on the streets of Ghazni, the police chief said.

U.S. attack helicopters and drone aircraft helped government forces fight back.

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Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell, a spokesman for USA forces in Afghanistan, said American forces and US attack helicopters had assisted Afghan troops in pushing back the Taliban during the night's multiple attacks in Ghazni. "The Taliban are roaming everywhere in and around the city", shopkeeper Mohammad Haleem said.

The Taliban have so far failed to take and hold any provincial center since they overran the northern city of Kunduz in 2015 before being driven off with the support of USA air strikes and Special Forces units.

Thirty Taliban fighters and one Afghan security forces' member were killed, according to the provincial government.

Mujahid did not comment on the Herat attack that killed six policemen at a district checkpoint.

But with Taliban fighters believed to be hiding in residential areas, it was unclear whether the government had full control of the city.

"We can confirm that there were attacks last night on multiple government centers in Ghazni City, Ghazni province", Lt. Col. Martin L. O'Donnell, a spokesman for USA forces in Afghanistan, told TOLOnews. With the outer defences breached, the insurgents seized control of several districts, advancing to within a few hundred metres of the governor's office and police headquarters. "In addition, U.S. aircraft conducted a show of presence", Lt Col. Martin O'Donnell, spokesman for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, said in an emailed statement.

Separately from the Taliban, an Islamic State affiliate has also carried out dozens of deadly attacks in recent years, mainly targeting security forces and minority Shiites.

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