Taliban travel to Uzbekistan for talks with officials

Taliban travel to Uzbekistan for talks with officials

Taliban travel to Uzbekistan for talks with officials

A Taliban attack on Ghazni has continued for a third day - with intense fighting and conflicting claims over who controls the Afghan city.

Insecurity has recently increased in Ghazni province.

Amid reports of resurgence of deadly clashes in the strategically important Ghazni city of Afghanistan, the country's army chief said on Sunday a full-scale clean-up operation is underway to eliminate the militants hiding in civilians' homes there. "The Taliban are roaming everywhere in and around the city", shopkeeper Mohammad Haleem said.

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 almost 17-year-old war.

KABUL: A delegation from the Afghan Taliban met officials in Uzbekistan during a five-day trip to the country last week to discuss issues including transport and power lines and peace in Afghanistan, the movement´s political office said.

After repulsing the daring assault, police conducted house-to-house searches for any remaining Taliban fighters.

Sixteen security personnel have been killed and two others wounded in a Taliban attack in northern Baghlan province, local sources said on Saturday.

Mr. Danish said at least 25 security forces had died in the fighting along with 150 Taliban fighters.

He did not say whether US aircraft, which had helped Afghan forces resist the initial attack on Friday, had conducted any strikes against the Taliban.

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Taliban stormed Ghazni City - 148 kilometers southwest of Kabul - at around 1am Kabul time on Friday.

He said two Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers and seven policemen were killed, two wounded and three others captured by the insurgents.

The Taliban's four-day trip to Uzbekistan, which ended Friday, was the strongest sign yet of the group's growing regional clout, while the Ghazni assault has highlighted its military prowess.

They attacked media offices and damaged a telecommunications tower - shutting off mobile service to the city as of Friday and making information about the fight hard to verify.

According to information released a year ago by the U.S., the Afghan government controls about 56 per cent of the country and the Taliban 11 per cent, while the rest of the territory is under dispute. The road from Kabul to Afghanistan's southern provinces was also closed because it runs through Ghazni.

The attack, the heaviest blow struck by the Taliban since they came close to overrunning the western city of Farah in May.

The Taliban say they met with Alice Wells, the top USA diplomat for South Asia, in Qatar last month for preliminary talks.

The insurgents have also so far ignored an offer by Ghani in February of unconditional peace negotiations.

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