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Taliban militants besiege Farah provincial capital in Afghsanistan

A Nov. 3, 2015 file photo shows Afghan Taliban fighters in Farah province, Afghanistan.

AP

Last Updated May 15, 2018 8:31 AM EDT

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Taliban insurgents launched attacks from multiple directions on the capital of Farah province in western Afghanistan near the border with Iran early Tuesday, killing and wounding "dozens" of security forces, a local official said. Fared Bakhtawer, head of the provincial council, said several security checkpoints in the city of Farah were overrun by Taliban fighters and that an intense gun battle was ongoing.

Bakhtawer said casualties were high among security forces, but couldn't provide a precise number.

"Security checkpoints around the city have collapsed in the hands of the Taliban, causing high casualties among security forces," he said.

Meanwhile, Abdul Basir Salangi, provincial governor, confirmed heavy fighting in the city. "An intense battle is going on in the city," he said without providing additional details.

The U.S.-led military coalition in Afghanistan said in a tweet that it was providing air support to Afghan forces around Farah.

Local reporters said the city was empty and shops, schools and government offices are closed as people hid inside their houses.

Mohammad Sarwar Osmani, a lawmaker from Farah province, said strategic security checkpoints around the city were overrun by Taliban and the insurgents were near police headquarters and the governor's offices.

Najib Danish, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said at least six security forces were killed and 12 others, including the deputy provincial police chief, were wounded in the attack. He said 10 Taliban militants were killed.

Reinforcements including commando units as well as the Afghan air force were battling Taliban fighters around the city, he said. "There is no danger of Farah city collapsing into the hands of Taliban," he added.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility. He said fighters launched attacks form multiple directions, after which they overran several checkpoints in the city. Farah borders Helmand province, where the Taliban controls several districts.

The Afghan Defense Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that Afghan security forces were able to repel their attacks.

In recent months, Farah province has been the site of many battles between Afghan security forces and Taliban insurgents. Local officials as well as tribal elders requested additional forces from the central government and more security from the province.

Separately, one local policeman was killed and another wounded after a bomb exploded in eastern Logar province, said Ahmad Khalid Safi, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

He said the attack happened late Monday night in Puli Alim the capital of the province.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but Taliban are active in the province and has repeatedly claimed earlier attacks in the province.