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Taliban Overrun Afghan Base, Kill 17   08/14 06:20

   The Taliban overran a base in northern Afghanistan, killing 17 soldiers, 
even as Afghan forces battled the insurgents for the fifth straight day in the 
eastern provincial capital of Ghazni on Tuesday, trying to flush them out of 
the city's outskirts, officials said.

   KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The Taliban overran a base in northern 
Afghanistan, killing 17 soldiers, even as Afghan forces battled the insurgents 
for the fifth straight day in the eastern provincial capital of Ghazni on 
Tuesday, trying to flush them out of the city's outskirts, officials said.

   There were fears for the fate of the other troops from the base, known as 
Camp Chinaya, as the Taliban claimed that dozens had surrendered to them while 
others were captured in battle.

   The attack in the north took place in Faryab province, in the district of 
Ghormach, according to the spokesman for the defense ministry, Ghafoor Ahmad 
Jawed. Along with the 17 troops killed, at least 19 soldiers were wounded, he 
said.

   The Taliban had besieged the base, which housed about 140 Afghan troops, for 
three days before the massive push on it late on Monday night, said the local 
provincial council chief, Mohammad Tahir Rahmani.

   Rahmani said the base fell to the Taliban after the soldiers, who had 
resisted the three-day onslaught, failed to get any reinforcements and ran out 
of ammunition, food and water. He said 43 troops were killed and wounded in the 
attack but didn't give a breakdown.

   Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack, 
saying 57 Afghan soldiers had surrendered to the Taliban while 17 others were 
captured in battle. He said eight military Humvees were also seized.

   Meanwhile, Afghan security forces on Tuesday pushed back the Taliban from 
Ghazni, the provincial capital of a province with the same name, and were 
trying to flush the insurgents from the city's outskirts.

   The developments came on the fifth day after a massive Taliban attack on 
Ghazni.  Hundreds of people have fled the fighting in the city, which has so 
far killed about 100 members of the Afghan security forces and at least 20 
civilians.

   Nasart Rahimi, a deputy spokesman at the Interior Ministry, said security 
forces were searching every inch of Ghazni for remaining Taliban fighters on 
Tuesday.

   Military helicopters were supporting the ground forces' operations in 
Ghazni, said Abdul Karim Arghandiwal, an army media officer in southeastern 
Afghanistan.

   Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, denied the insurgents have been routed from 
Ghazni and said sporadic gunbattles were still ongoing.

   The Taliban's multipronged assault on the strategic city of Ghazni, about 
120 kilometers (75 miles) from the capital, Kabul, began Friday. The insurgents 
overwhelmed the city's defenses, pushed deep into Ghazni and captured several 
parts of it in a major show of force.

   The United States has carried out airstrikes and sent military advisers to 
aid Afghan forces in the city of 270,000 people.

   The fall of Ghazni, which is the capital of the province of the same name, 
would be an important victory for the Taliban, cutting Highway One, a key route 
linking Kabul to the southern provinces, the insurgents' traditional heartland.

   The Taliban also destroyed a telecommunications tower on Ghazni's outskirts, 
cutting off landline and cellphone links to the city.

   The fighting brought civilian life in the city to a standstill, and also 
severely damaged Ghazni's historic neighborhoods and cultural treasures.

   In recent months, the Taliban have seized several districts across 
Afghanistan, staging near-daily attacks on security forces, but they have been 
unable to capture and hold urban areas.

   The U.S. and NATO formally concluded their combat mission in Afghanistan at 
the end of 2014, but have since then repeatedly come to the aid of Afghan 
forces as they struggle to combat the resurgent Taliban.


(KA)

 
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