14 Afghan soldiers killed after Taliban overrun northern base
Taliban fighters overran a northern Afghan base in Faryab, killing 14 soldiers and capturing 40 others, reports confirmed on Tuesday.
Head of Faryab's provincial council, Tahir Rehmani said the base fell after the soldiers begged for reinforcements and air support from Kabul but were ultimately ignored.
"They were too busy with Ghazni," said Rehmani.
Afghan security forces have been struggling to beat back Taliban insurgents since US-led NATO troops ended their combat mission in December 2014.
The Ghazni offensive is the Taliban's largest tactical onslaught since an unprecedented albeit brief truce between security forces and insurgents in June, providing battle-worn Afghans some welcome relief.
The government has insisted the city is under its control, but insurgents appear entrenched there and residents said they were burning buildings, killing civilians and firing on security forces.
US airpower is backing Afghan security forces who are conducting a clearing operation in the city. Reports say scores have died since fighting broke out five days ago.The UN said unverified reports put civilian casualties at more than 100, but communication networks remained largely down and have made verifying information difficult.
"Ghazni is a ghost city now. The Taliban are going from house to house to find government officials or their relatives to kill," one resident, Sayed Zia, told AFP.
Another resident also said the Taliban were killing civilians who refused to help them.
"I saw two trucks full of coffins going toward a cemetery in the city. They all seemed to be civilians," said Abdullah, who asked to only use one name.
The UN warned the Taliban are reportedly hiding in residents' homes and marketplaces, which is heightening the risk of civilian casualties from airstrikes. It also said bombs planted along the road entering and exiting the city have "prevented civilians from safely fleeing violence".
Ghazni lies along the major Kabul-Kandahar highway, effectively serving as a gateway between Kabul and the militant strongholds in the south.
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