Taliban militants storm Afghan provincial capital, clashes continue

15 May 2018, 10:21 | Isaac Mcdaniel

Heavy Fighting Breaks Out In Western Afghan City, Residents Say Situation “Very Bad”

Multiple blasts and gun battle in eastern Afghan city

Afghan and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation warplanes have bombed Taliban positions after insurgents attacked Farah city, the capital of Farah Province in western Afghanistan, close to the Iranian border, Afghan officials say.

Afghan aircraft bombed Taliban positions as residents sought shelter from the explosions and gunfire.

Clashes in Farah come amid the Taliban's annual spring offensive, as they vow to target the "American invaders".

Two members of the Afghan forces were killed and four were injured, said Radmanish.

A spokesman for the Chief Executive office Javid Faisal said the commandos have been deployed in police headquarters, intelligence compound, and the central prison of Farah.

"There is no danger of Farah city collapsing into the hands of Taliban", said Danish.

Provincial governor Basir Salangi said that Taliban attacked Farah city around 2am local time and suffered heavy casualties.

The Taliban have frequently claimed they try to avoid civilian casualties, but human rights organizations have counted thousands of civilian deaths caused by insurgent violence in recent years - many the result of Taliban attacks in populated urban areas. He said fighters launched attacks form multiple directions, after which they overran several checkpoints in the city.

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According to the TOLO news broadcaster, the Taliban started clashing with government troops at about 2 a.m. local time (21:30 GMT the previous day) on Tuesday in several districts and close to the National Directorate of Security department.

NATO's Resolute Support mission in Kabul tweeted that the Afghan army, supported by USA airpower including A-10 Thunderbolts, was "on the offensive" and the city "remains under govt. control".

Public health officials said that at least 15 people, including a child, had been killed and 42 wounded.

"If the security forces can't take control of the whole city by the end of the day, then it will be very hard to take control of the city anytime soon", Samim said.

Residents in Farah have long warned that the city was vulnerable. "The situation is very bad", Satar Hissaini, a tribal elder in Farah, told Agence France-Presse.

In January, NATO's Resolute Support Mission, tasked with building up the Afghan government's security forces, assessed that almost 15 percent of the country's 407 districts - more than 20 percent of the landmass - was under insurgent control or influence, according to a watchdog report released this month.

"An intense battle is going on in the city", he said without providing additional details.

The insurgents released a statement warning residents to remain inside their homes and called on people to "stay calm".



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