Taliban storms major city in western Afghanistan

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Taliban storms major city in western Afghanistan

Taliban fighters with heavy weapons and night-vision equipment fought their way close to the center of the western city of Farah today (May 15) as Afghan government forces battled to keep control, officials and residents said.

Special forces from Kandahar and Herat were rushed to the city to take part in the fighting, which residents said began around midnight, and was still ongoing as darkness began to fall yesterday. Taliban fighters forced the governor to flee and caused the collapse of multiple security compounds.

Bakhtawer said casualties were high among security forces, but could not provide a precise number.

"We are stuck at our homes, we can not go out and everyone is in great fear", Shakoor said.

The Defense Ministry had quickly deployed reinforcements and vowed to repel the attack.

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.

Officials have warned of a deteriorating security situation for months, as insurgents have entered the capital on several occasions and threatened outlying districts.

In a statement circulated online Monday, the extremist group says four attackers took part in the assault the day before on the finance directorate in Jalalabad.

The Taliban assault was the biggest by the group since the militant regime was ousted from power in 2001.

A resurgent Taliban, largely dependent on narcotics revenues, has expanded its sway in the country since the withdrawal of most global combat forces at the end of 2014.

The Kabul government and its global backers are seeking to reverse those trends by growing the country's special operations command and air force. "The worldwide coalition, led by the United States, is focused on providing the military pressure, in conjunction with social pressure and diplomatic pressure that will force them to come to the table", Votel said during a visit to Tajikistan's capital, Dushanbe.

Local military experts believed the Taliban offensive followed their loss of control over the southern province of Helmand. The insurgents captured it in 2015 and again in 2016, but in both cases it was retaken after only a few days amid heavy fighting and airstrikes.

In late April, the Taliban announced its annual "spring offensive" and has conducted over 2,700 attacks around the country since then.

Mohammad Radmanish, Afghanistan's defence ministry spokesman, said at least 10 insurgents and two Afghan security force members had been killed so far. Five wounded civilians, including women, were also being treated. He said fighters launched attacks form multiple directions, after which they overran several checkpoints in the city.

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