Dozens Killed, Wounded as Taliban Closes in on City in Western Afghan

Official Government troops push back Taliban from west city in Afghanistan

Taliban fighters with heavy weapons and night-vision equipment fought their way close to the center of the western city of Farah on Tuesday, as Afghan government forces backed by U.S. air strikes battled to keep control, officials and residents said.

Separately, in eastern Ghazni province, at least 14 policemen were killed, including a district deputy police chief, after Taliban fighters launched attacks on their checkpoints, said Arif Noori, spokesman for the provincial governor.

"The Taliban are moving very fast, if the government does not take serious and speedy action, the province is going to collapse to Taliban", said Hamidullah, a resident of the city reached by telephone in the morning.

Abdullah said in parts of the country Afghan soldiers have been surrounded by Taliban for months, but in recent days the National Security Council and the Supreme Commander meetings were not held to address soldiers' problems and to send them support.

Fared Bakhtawer, head of the provincial council, said several security checkpoints in the city of Farah were overrun by Taliban fighters and that an intense gun battle was ongoing.

However, they have been pushed back, officials said on Wednesday morning.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying fighters took "most parts of Farah city" and dozens of people, including three senior Afghan officials, were killed.

Farah province has seen heavy fighting in recent months, with local officials and tribal elders requesting additional forces from the already overstretched army and police.

Located along one of the country's most lucrative drug routes, between Helmand province in the south and Iran to the west, the province has been embattled for months.

AFGHANISTAN: Government building attacked in Jalalabad, 12 dead
Afghan security forces keep watch during blasts and a gun battle in Jalalabad , Afghanistan on May 13, 2018. Both the Taliban and a local Islamic State affiliate have carried out numerous attacks in Nangarhar.

Inside the city residents reported clashes were continuing.

A resident, who wished to go unnamed, said the rebels had captured the 3rd police district and stormed the intelligence department.

"US Air Force A-10s are over Farah city, which remains under government control".

He added, "First 1,000 Taliban insurgents attacked Farah districts on Tuesday and after the first attack over 1,000 other insurgents also joined the attack".

Salangi said more than 300 Taliban fighters were killed in the gunbattle.

The insurgents released a statement warning residents to stay inside their homes and "stay calm".

In 2017, insurgents tried to overrun the capital three times, according to the Afghanistan Analysts Network.

The Taliban are stepping up their spring offensive, in an apparent rejection of a peace talks overture from the government.

Although the insurgents have been unable to take and hold any provincial centre, they are active across Afghanistan and the government has firm control over no more than 56 percent of the country, according to USA estimates.

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