Fighting with government forces in the central Afghan city comes as foreign troops continue to withdraw from the country.
Taliban fighters have launched an attack on Ghazni, clashing with Afghan forces and using explosives in an attempt to capture the central Afghan city, local officials said.
Tuesday’s assault on Ghazni, on the highway linking the capital Kabul with the southern province of Kandahar, is accelerating the Taliban’s offensive against the government and coming as foreign troops prepare to leave. country devastated by war in less than three months.
While senior Afghan officials have confirmed the Taliban’s offensive, they have also said that Afghan forces have sought to regain control of the lost ground.
The Taliban have had a strong presence in Ghazni province for years, but provincial police officials said the nighttime attack from several directions was the most ferocious launched by the armed group.
The clashes intensified near security checkpoints in the Shaikh Ajal and Ganj area of Ghazni city, forcing traders to close the main market.
“The situation in Ghazni is changing, most of the lost areas in the periphery are being recaptured by Afghan forces,” said Abdul Jami, a member of the provincial council in Ghazni.
Roads in the area were closed and telecommunications disrupted making it difficult for aid groups and officials to assess the number of victims.
While Afghan forces were fighting the Taliban in Ghazni and other parts of the country, officials said some civilians were actively involved in the battle against the group.
Ajmal Omar Shinwari, spokesman for the Afghan defense and security forces, said Afghans willing to take up arms against the Taliban are absorbed into the structure of the territorial army forces.
“First they will be trained after they will be deployed on the battlefield with other Afghan security forces,” Shinwari said in the Kabul capital.
The violence escalated after the U.S. and NATO forces began the deployment of their last remaining troops to meet a Sept. 11 deadline announced by President Joe Biden to end the war. longer than the United States.
Since the beginning of May, the Taliban have launched several bloody offensives against government forces throughout the rough campaign and say it has taken nearly 90 of the country’s more than 400 districts.
However, many of the armed group’s claims are disputed by the government and have not been independently verified.
Saturday officials said 5,000 Afghan families have fled their homes in the northern city of Kunduz after days of fighting between Taliban fighters and government forces.
Heavy fighting was also reported this week in Kandahar and Baghlan provinces, where Afghan forces claimed to have represented areas under Taliban control, but the group still held parts of the Pul- area. e-Khumri in central Baghlan, according to local media. .
The Taliban have been waging an armed campaign against the Western-backed government since it was ousted from power in a 2001 US-led invasion.
Amid growing violence, President Ashraf Ghani visited Washington last week to meet with Biden, which promised to support the US in Afghanistan but he said Afghans must decide their future.
Ghani acknowledged the growing Taliban violence, but said the country’s security forces were taking the districts out of the control of the rebels.
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Al Jazeera in an exclusive interview that the armed group has the “right to react” if the United States holds troops in Afghanistan after 9/11.
Peace talks between Taliban and Afghan leaders in Qatar have remained.
An estimated 241,000 people have died as a direct result of the war since the U.S. invasion, according to the latest data from Brown University’s war costs.