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Fighting spills over into 3 cities amid militant offensive

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KABUL: Fighting between Taliban rebels and Afghan government forces spread throughout several major cities Friday night as militants launched an overnight onslaught near Herat city in the west, and Lashkargah city in Helmand province and in Kandahar in the south.

Clashes began in the Guzra district, 10 km from Herat, but militants have encroached further and Afghan troops are said to be engaged in fighting with the Taliban along the road leading to Herat airport.

Authorities have said special police forces and army commandos have cleared all areas where militants were stationed.

A defense spokesman has said the Taliban attack on the outskirts of Herat had failed.

Defense Ministry spokesman Fawad Aman has said that security forces with help of pro-government forces have driven Taliban out of the besieged parts of the city and the road from Enjil district to Pole Pashto.

A number of residents in in Herat

Residents say they have heard heavy gunfire in Pole Pashto and Pole Malan areas in recent days, which is in the vicinity of Herat airport.

At the same time, the office of the governor of Herat published pictures of Abdul Sabur Qane, the governor of the province, visiting the front line of the war in Guzra district.

At least 19 people had been injured and five had been taken to a hospital in Herat, according to a “Herat Ambulance” official, Ibrahim Mohammadi.

A Taliban spokesman said in a statement that members of the group had taken control of the Karkh district center in Herat.

Attaullah Afghan, provincial councilmen in Helmand province, has told the BBC that fighting had been going on inside Lashkargah city since Friday night.

He says government forces also carried out airstrikes on Taliban positions. An army helicopter also had to make an emergency landing in the area on Friday night.

According to the provincial council member, almost all districts in Helmand province have been captured by the Taliban and security forces are present only in parts of Kajaki and Greshk districts.

The cities of Kandahar in the south and Taloqan in the northeast have also seen heavy fighting between Taliban and security forces recently.

Local sources in Kandahar city say there was a war in some areas inside the city of Kandahar, but now the situation has calmed down.

The Afghan Army Atelier Corps in the south claims that more than 30 Taliban insurgents have been killed in air and ground attacks by Afghan forces in Kandahar city and Jiri district. The Taliban have not yet commented.

Health officials in Kandahar say more than 30 injured people were taken to the province’s central hospital overnight, including women and children.

Afghan officials claim that dozens of Taliban fighters have been killed in the clashes. The Taliban have so far said nothing.

Takhar province in northeastern Afghanistan also reported that the Taliban launched their offensive late last night from several directions above the city of Taloqan but were repulsed by government forces.

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