US forces launched airstrikes Friday to counter a major Taliban assault on an Afghan provincial capital, where terrified residents cowered in their homes amid explosions and gunfire as security forces fought to beat the insurgents back.
The attack which left dozens dead and wounded.
At least 14 security forces were killed and 20 wounded in the battle, said Baz Mohammad Hemat, administrator of the Ghazni city hospital.
He said the bodies of 39 Taliban soldiers were recovered beneath a bridge in the southern edge of the city.
Air strikes called in to quash the offensive also killed dozens of Taliban, he said.
Officials said Afghan special forces were also being deployed to the southeastern city of Ghazni after the latest attempt by the Taliban to capture an urban centre, with the assault coming as pressure builds on the insurgents to enter peace talks.
Ghazni has been under threat from massing Taliban fighters for months, with residents saying the complex nature of the attacks was unprecedented in its scale.
A spokesman for US Forces in Afghanistan said the fighting had “ceased” as of Friday morning, hours after the insurgents began the assault late Thursday from several positions around the city.
Sporadic gunfire continued to echo amid intermittent clashes, with officials telling residents to stay in their homes as Taliban fighters roamed the streets. Power has been cut to the area since fighting erupted.
Earlier, residents described heavy gunfire ringing out and a government building set on fire.
“We are scared for our life. The Taliban are roaming everywhere in and around the city,” shopkeeper Mohammad Haleem said.
Another resident, Yasan, said the Taliban were using loudspeakers at the mosque to warn residents to stay in their homes.
“Heavy explosions and gunfire can be heard. We are terrified,” Yasan wrote in a Facebook post.
Dead bodies of Taliban fighters remained on the street after the exchange, provincial police chief Farid Ahmad Mashal told the Associated Press news agency.
The US said that the city remained under government control.
“U.S. Forces responded with close-air support this morning in #Ghazni,” the official account for US Forces in Afghanistan tweeted Friday.