120 Afghan forces, civilians killed in battle with Taliban

In Afghanistan, four days of ferocious fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban over a key provincial capital has claimed the lives of about 120 Policemen, Soldiers and Civilians. The staggering numbers provided by Gen.

Tareq Shah Bahrami were the first official casualty toll since the Taliban launched a massive assault on Ghazni, the capital of Ghazni province, last Friday. The multi-pronged assault overwhelmed the city’s defences and allowed insurgents to capture several parts of it.

It was a major show of force by the Taliban, who infiltrated deep into this strategic city barely 120 kilometers from the capital, Kabul.

The United States has sent military advisers to aid Afghan forces. The fall of Ghazni, a city of 270,000 people, would mark an important victory for the Taliban. It would also cut off a key highway linking Kabul to the southern provinces, the Taliban’s traditional heartland.

Bahrami, the Defence Minister today said the casualty figures are not yet definite and that the numbers might change. He did not offer a breakdown of the casualties but Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak said nearly 70 policemen were among those killed.

Bahrami said about 1,000 additional troops have been sent to Ghazni and helped prevent the city from falling into Taliban hands. He also said 194 insurgents, including 12 leaders, were killed – with Pakistani, Chechen and Arabs foreign fighters among the dead.

The attack on Ghazni began on Friday, with insurgents infiltrating people’s homes and slipping out into the night to attack Afghan forces.

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