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16 security personnel killed in Baghlan attack

16 security personnel killed in Baghlan attack

While government security forces in the city of Ghazni repulsed the multipronged attack with the help of USA air support, Taliban insurgents remained hunkered down on its outskirts, and some were still holed up in residential areas, according to Interior Ministry deputy spokesman, Nasrat Rahimi.

The Afghan military said a clearance operation targeting Taliban fighters was ongoing, insisting they remained in control of key government offices.

Afghan army chief General Mohammad Sharif Yaftali told a news conference Sunday in Kabul his forces were conducting counter-offensives to evict Taliban fighters from the city.

Though the attack failed, they killed at least 14 Afghan police officers in the process, wounding another 20.

Ghazni Police Chief Farid Ahmad Mashal said that the skirmishes were reported in Khogyani, Khwaja Omari, and Zanakhan areas- all of them situated on Ghazni's outskirts.

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Islamic State also claimed responsibility for a recent blast in the country, with 29 people dead and 81 injured following, south of Kabul, two days ago.

Earlier on Saturday, the Taliban claimed victory in the fight for the embattled city, saying their forces were in control of Ghazni after routing Afghan troops. A three-day holiday cease-fire in June brought rare quiet to much of the country, but the Taliban rejected a government request to extend it. "The Taliban are roaming everywhere in and around the city", shopkeeper Mohammad Haleem said hours after the assault began.

Later he said in a series of tweets that top security officials briefed him on the developing military and humanitarian situation in the city and the province. In a rare diplomatic foray and the strongest sign yet of the Taliban's increasing political presence in the region, the head of the militant group's political office led a delegation to Uzbekistan to meet senior Foreign Ministry officials, Uzbek and Taliban officials said Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018.

Power has been cut to Ghazni since the fighting erupted, with communications in the area appearing to be down.

On Sunday, Lt Col Martin O'Donnell, US Forces Afghanistan spokesperson, said the Afghan army "continue to hold their ground and maintain control of all government centres".

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Information for this article was contributed by Maamoun Youssef of The Associated Press.

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

"U.S. Forces responded with close-air support this morning in #Ghazni", the official account for US Forces in Afghanistan tweeted Friday.

"The fear is spreading in Ghazni as the day ends, the Taliban might intensify their attack as it gets dark", he added.

But the Taliban have so far ignored Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's offer of unconditional peace negotiations even though their representatives met USA officials in Qatar last month and are to hold another meeting next month.

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Backed by the worldwide community, the Tashkent conference endorsed Kabul's offer of direct talks without any preconditions and with the ultimate goal of reaching a comprehensive peace agreement with the militants.