Afghanistan attacks on media shows jihadists are weak: Pentagon chief

Afghan capital Kabul hit by explosion

Afghan capital Kabul hit by explosion

KABUL-Fighting raged Tuesday between Taliban militants and Afghan government forces for control of a provincial capital near the Iranian border, local officials said, in a confrontation shaping up as a stern test of US efforts to build an effective, local force.

Farah province, 695 km west of Kabul and bordering Iran, has been the scene of heavy clashes between Taliban and security forces over the past few months.

Security forces were sent to the city and deployed in various areas, the ministry said. The Taliban launched attacks from multiple directions early Tuesday aiming to gain control of the city but later faced resistance from reinforced security forces.

Local people said Taliban forces began their attack at around 2.00 a.m. (2130 GMT Monday) from several directions and a senior official said the situation was serious early in the day as the insurgents overran several areas and the provincial governor left the city.

Afghan capital Kabul hit by explosion

Afghan forces have struggled to combat the Taliban in recent years, as the insurgents have seized several districts across the country.

"Farah city remains under government control, and the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, supported by U.S. Forces-Afghanistan airpower, are on the offensive against the Taliban", spokesman Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell said.

Residents in Farah have long warned that the city was vulnerable.

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

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Defence ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish said pockets of resistance remained, but "our forces are battling the enemy with high morale".

A North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spokesman warned there could be more fighting Wednesday.

NATO's Resolute Support mission in Kabul tweeted that the Afghan army, supported by United States airpower including A-10 Thunderbolts, was "on the offensive" and the city "remains under govt. control".

Two members of the Afghan forces were killed and four were injured, said Radmanish.

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The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was contradicting official government reports.

Samihullah Samim, a lawmaker from Farah, said parts of the city are under Taliban control, with heavy fighting underway just 300 metres from the governor's residence.

The insurgents released a statement warning residents to stay inside their homes and "stay calm". In 2017, insurgents tried three times to overrun the capital, according to the Afghanistan Analysts Network.

The assault comes as the Taliban are stepping up their spring offensive, in an apparent rejection of a peace talks overture by the Afghan government.

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Kunduz, Afghanistan's fifth largest city and capital of the northern province of the same name, fell briefly to the Taliban in 2015.

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