Over 100 security forces killed in Afghanistan's embattled city
At least 100 security forces have been killed in the ongoing struggle to push the Taliban from the embattled Afghan city of Ghazni, a government minister said Monday, four days after the fighting began.
The announcement comes as Afghan special forces moved into the embattled Ghazni overnight in a bid to defeat Taliban insurgents, as fighting rages for a fourth day, despite Kabul's claims it was firmly under government control.
"About 100 security forces have lost their lives and between 20 and 30 civilians have been killed," Bahrami told a press conference in Kabul.
He said that 194 "enemy fighters", including 12 "key commanders", have also been killed in the battles.
At least 95 Taliban combatants were killed in the air strikes, Bahrami said.
The number of civilian deaths are not known, however, eyewitness report seeing many bodies on the streets. Tolo News, the country's largest television station broadcast shaky phone footage showing multiple fires raging.
Ghazni - around two hours by road from the capital Kabul - has been under increasing danger from massing Taliban fighters for months, with reports suggesting insurgents had infiltrated the city at will.
The onslaught was the latest attempt by the Taliban to overrun an urban centre and comes as pressure increases on the insurgents to begin peace talks with the government to end the nearly 17-year-old war.
The attack was the Taliban's largest operation since an unprecedented truce in June over the Eid holiday brought fighting to a brief halt.
A Taliban delegation landed in Uzbekistan - which is mediating talks with the government - earlier this month to discuss peace talks.
The UN released a report last month showing a record number of civilians killed in the first six months of 2018, with militant attacks and suicide bombs the leading causes of death.
The toll of 1,692 fatalities was one percent more than a year earlier and the highest for the period since the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) began keeping records in 2009.
The record death toll came despite an unprecedented ceasefire by Afghan security forces and the Taliban during Ramadan that was largely respected by both sides, UNAMA said.
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