Heavily armed fighters of Taliban attacked the city of Ghazni located in central Afghanisan. They burnt down police checkpoints and shelled business areas and houses. They managed to gain control of a few sections of the city before being defeated and pushed out of the city.
Government forces were given air support by drone aircraft and attack helicopters from the US forces. Despite this, it has been difficult to determine the actual area in Ghazni under the control of the government.
Ghazni is a strategic city located on the main route connecting Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, with the southern region of the country. As such, an attack on this vital location is seen as a demonstration of the strength of Taliban. It is also a reminder of the volatility of the security situation considering that parliamentary elections are 3 months away in October.
The defense ministry stated that the fighters were driven off. However, some remained in one section of the city, occupying civilian houses. These fighters are using their locations to fire on the security forces occasionally. The ministry also stated that around 150 Taliban fighters were wounded or killed. However, it did not provide any estimate of the casualties among security forces or civilians.
The attack took place while hopes were growing for talks to be held for ending the war which has so long ravaged Afghanistan. This war has been going on for 17 years. Moreover, the Eid al-Adha festival is just 2 weeks away. During that period, the government of Afghanistan, which has the backing of the west, has been thinking of offering the Taliban a ceasefire.
Back in June, the government and Taliban reached a 3-day truce during the Eid al-Fitr festival. It was an incredible success with several scenes of Taliban fighters enjoying the festival with security forces, not only in Kabul but also other cities across Afghanistan. It offered a rare glimpse of what peace can bring, fuelling hopes of talks that can end the war.