Ghazni siege has resulted in deaths of over 100 soldiers, 20 civilians

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A Taliban assault on the Afghan strategic city of Ghazni has entered its fourth day, with the death toll climbing above 300, including civilians, security forces and Taliban fighters, according to government officials.

Defence Minister Tariq Shah Bahrami said on Monday “about 100 security forces” were killed in the intense fighting, as well “between 20 and 30 civilians”.

Speaking at a press conference in the capital, Kabul, Bahrami said 194 Taliban fighters, including 12 of their “key commanders” had also been killed, mostly by US air raids.

According to the US military headquarters in Kabul, US aircraft conducted at least nine air raids over Saturday and Sunday.

Afghan forces are battling the Taliban after the group stormed Ghazni city, the capital of the province with the same name and a strategic point linking Kabul with southern Afghanistan – on Friday.

Information coming out of the city remains patchy and difficult to confirm after fighting destroyed most of the telecoms masts and local news media stopped broadcasting.

Roads in and out of the city have been damaged and obstructed by Taliban forces to prevent Afghan reinforcements arriving, but residents who escaped the violence on foot have described seeing dead bodies in the street and buildings on fire.

“They were burning buildings and there were dead bodies everywhere in Ghazni city and the fight was ongoing. The situation was very bad and all shops were closed,” said Abdul Wakil, an eyewitness who fled from Ghazni.

Najib Danish, the Interior Ministry’s spokesman, said reinforcements have been sent Ghazni and were trying to clear it of the Taliban.

Previous reinforcements have fallen prey to Taliban ambush and Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said on Twitter that Taliban forces are blocking all roads to Ghazni.

The United States have also sent military advisers to aid Afghan forces and are conducting air strikes to support Afghan troops on the ground.

The attack on Ghazni is the largest tactical operation launched by the Taliban since an unprecedented truce in June brought fighting between security forces and the armed group to a temporary pause.

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