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Taliban attempt to take Afghan city, held back by government forces in ongoing clashes

Smoke rises from a building during ongoing clashes between Afghan security forces and Taliban militants at a government building in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on May 13, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Taliban militants in Afghanistan have attacked the capital city of western Farah Province in an attempt to capture the city but have not been able to advance much amid ongoing resistance by Afghan forces.

Local provincial council member Jamila Amini said from inside the city on Tuesday that the militants had attacked the city around midnight, capturing one district and parts of another.

Amini said government airstrikes had been called to assist ground forces.

“Heavy fighting continues inside the city, and aircraft have just started bombarding Taliban positions,” she said. Reinforcements, including commando units, have also been deployed to the region, she added.

Amini further said that at least one army convoy had been struck by a bomber on a motorbike, causing casualties.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Radmanish, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry in Kabul, said two Afghan forces had been killed and four wounded.

This photograph, taken on March 31, 2018, shows Afghan security personnel taking part in a military operation in Jurm district, Badakhshan Province. (By AFP)

Taliban released a statement warning residents to remain inside their houses.

But the Defense Ministry said it had repelled the assailants and “the security forces are now chasing the enemy.”

The Taliban militants have escalated their attacks as part of their so-called spring offensive.

The remote and sparsely-populated province of Farah, which borders Iran, has been a key battleground for the militants for months, with heavy fighting in Balabuluk.

Farah has gained more significance for the Taliban as the government plans to build a multi-billion-dollar pipeline in the province, which also involves Turkmenistan, Pakistan, and India. The province has been the scene of several high-profile attacks in the recent past.

US-led forces invaded Afghanistan and toppled a ruling Taliban regime some 17 years ago. That ongoing war has failed to bring stability to the country despite the presence of thousands of foreign forces.

A recent survey found that Taliban were active in two-thirds of the country and were fully controlling four percent of it.

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