Killed As Taliban Militants Storm Farah City

Heavy clashes in W. Afghanistan city as major Taliban offensive kicks off

Intense clashes between Taliban militants and Afghan government forces have been ongoing since Tuesday morning in the provincial capital of Farah in western Afghanistan, TOLO news reported.

Early Tuesday, Ahmad Zaki, a doctor at the city's central hospital, said that so far two dead police officers and 16 wounded security forces members had been brought to the medical facility since the start of the latest assault.

Samihullah Samim, a legislator from Farah, said parts of the city are under Taliban control, with heavy fighting just 300 metres from the governor's residence.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, in a busy area of the city with many other official buildings nearby, including a school in which about 1,000 girls were trapped as the fighting raged.

The Afghan authorities have long struggled to gain control of the isolated region, as Taliban fighters have repeatedly launched offensives on the Farah province.

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

The assault comes as the Taliban are stepping up their spring offensive, in an apparent rejection of a peace talks overture by the Afghan government.

He said commando units and other reinforcements had been deployed.

A Farah government official and several residents said security forces were engaged in police districts two and three, around four kilometres from the city centre. The Taliban had captured a police district on the city's edge, he said.

Another provincial council member, Dadullah Qani, confirmed Hissaini's comments.

"There were eight terrorists who carried out a coordinated attack in Jalalabad city, killing ten people", Khogyani said.

The insurgents released a statement warning residents to remain inside their homes and called on people to "stay calm".

Many radio and television channels in the province have stopped broadcasting, fearing for their employees' lives, according to media watchdog Nai. 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. Officials have warned of a deteriorating security situation as insurgents have entered the capital several times.

The attack on Farah is the first siege of a provincial capital this year.

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