US launches airstrikes as Taliban attack Afghan city

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US launches airstrikes as Taliban attack Afghan city

GHAZNI: US forces launched airstrikes Friday to counter a major Taliban assault on an Afghan provincial capital, where terrified residents cowered in their homes amid explosions and gunfire as security forces fought to beat the insurgents back.
Officials said Afghan special forces were also being deployed to the southeastern city of Ghazni after the latest attempt by the Taliban to capture an urban centre, with the assault coming as pressure builds on the insurgents to enter peace talks.
Ghazni — less than two hours by road from Kabul — has been under threat from massing Taliban fighters for months, with residents saying the complex nature of the attacks was unprecedented in its scale.
A spokesman for US Forces in Afghanistan said the fighting had “ceased” as of Friday morning, hours after the insurgents began the assault late Thursday from several positions around the city.
Sporadic gunfire continued to echo amid intermittent clashes, with officials telling residents to stay in their homes as Taliban fighters roamed the streets. Power has been cut to the area since fighting erupted.
Earlier, residents described heavy gunfire ringing out and a government building set on fire.
“We are scared for our life. The Taliban are roaming everywhere in and around the city,” shopkeeper Mohammad Haleem said.
Another resident, Yasan, said the Taliban were using loudspeakers at the mosque to warn residents to stay in their homes.
“Heavy explosions and gunfire can be heard. We are terrified,” Yasan wrote in a Facebook post.

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