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Army Chief Says Taliban Hiding in Civilian Homes in Ghazni

12 Aug 2018 Tolo News

Afghanistan’s Army Chief of Staff Mohammad Sharif Yaftali held a press conference on Sunday afternoon and said all key government facilities in Ghazni city were under government control but that operations were moving slowly as Taliban insurgents were hiding out in civilian homes.

He said that the security forces had been prepared for such an attack and that there had been a heavy military presence in the province when the Taliban launched their attack.

He did not however give details on casualties nor did he confirm or reject earlier reports that he would go to Ghazni to take control of the situation. 

Yaftali called on Ghazni residents to cooperate with security forces and to not give the Taliban shelter in their homes. 

Provincial Police Chief Farid Ahmad Mashal also told TOLOnews on Sunday afternoon that no government facilities in the city have fallen to the Taliban.

He also however that foreign fighters, including Pakistanis and Chechens, are involved in the battle for Ghazni.

According to him, insurgents are withdrawing from the city.

However, at least 18 security force members have been killed and 12 wounded. Clearance operations are underway and house-to-house searches are being conducted, he said. 

With no communication lines working, very little information has been coming out of the city.

Some reports indicate however that clashes have intensified in the past few hours and that the police headquarters has fallen to the Taliban.

Reports on social media state that over 100 bodies have already been taken to a local hospital and the number of wounded is very high.

However, none of this was immediately confirmed and the exact location in the city of the heavy clashes was also not clear.  

The IEC did however say on Sunday morning that it’s offices in the city had been set on fire by the Taliban.

TOLOnews however continues to try to get confirmed information regarding the situation.

On Sunday morning, military officials told TOLOnews reporter Abdulhaq Omeri that a large number of Taliban fighters had been hiding in civilian homes in the city ahead of the initial attack on Thursday night.

According to them, fighters stormed the city from the Khoghyani district but had reinforcements already inside the city.

Omeri said military officials also confirmed foreign troops had arrived in neighboring Gardez, in Paktia, to provide assistance and air support to the Afghan troops on the ground.

Taliban stormed Ghazni City – 148 kilometers southwest of Kabul – at around 1am Kabul time on Friday.

Insecurity recently increased dramatically in Ghazni province, which led to the Independent Election Commission delaying parliamentary elections in the province.

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