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'Serious measures' taken as Taliban attack Farah city in western Afghanistan

'Serious measures' taken as Taliban attack Farah city in western Afghanistan

Taliban militants attacked Farah city, provincial capital of western Afghan province of Farah early Tuesday, in a coordinated effort to seize full control of the city, a provincial security source said.

Mohammad Radmanish, a spokesman for the defence ministry in Kabul, said security forces from neighbouring provinces had been ordered to Farah to protect civilians and government buildings and said the Taliban had been pushed out of the city.

Afghan security forces keep watch during blasts and gunbattle at the site in Jalalabad city, Afghanistan May 13, 2018.

"An intense battle is going on in the city", he said without providing additional details.

Farah has only about 50,000 residents, and the surrounding province, also called Farah, is a remote and poor rural region known mostly for growing opium poppies.

"NDS forces in their headquarters are engaged in heavy clashes with the Taliban".

Residents said Taliban forces began their attack at around 2.00 a.m. (2130 GMT Monday) from several directions.

Social media images showed bodies of government troops on the streets in one area, while video images released by the government showed helicopters firing on a hill outside the city.

Many radio and television channels in the province have stopped broadcasting, fearing for their employees' lives, according to media watchdog Nai.

Inamullah Miakhial, a Nangarhar hospital spokesman, also confirmed the dead toll and said that more than 40 wounded people are undergoing treatment at the hospital.

The Taliban are stepping up their spring offensive, in an apparent rejection of a peace talks overture from the government. There are plans for a section of the multi-billion-dollar TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India) gas pipeline to traverse it, a project with which the Taliban have pledged to cooperate.

In 2017, insurgents tried to overrun the capital three times, according to the Afghanistan Analysts Network.

"Government reinforcements have arrived including around 100 commando forces".

The attack on Farah is the first siege of a provincial capital this year. The insurgents have not overrun any other city, a fact that US military officials often point to as a sign of fatal weakness.

If the Taliban gain a foothold, then fighters from neighbouring provinces would flood into the city, he warned.


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