Afghan Troops, Taliban Both Claim Advantage in Major Fighting by Craig Nelson and Ehsanullah Amiri – Wall Street Journal
KABUL - Afghan troops and Taliban fighters clashed across an eastern Afghan city on Saturday, as each side claimed the upper hand in the latest major confrontation in the 17-year war between U.S.-backed government forces and the country’s largest, most powerful insurgency.
Fighting flared in seven neighborhoods of Ghazni, including three pockets within a half-mile of the governor’s residence, said Nasir Faqiri, a member of the provincial council. The most intense fighting, he said, was under way near a prison holding Taliban fighters on the southeastern edge of the city, 80 miles southeast of the capital Kabul.
Nearly two days after Taliban fighters struck the city in a multipronged, nighttime attack that left many of its 143,000 residents cowering in fear, gloom was setting in, despite official assurances that the situation was under control. “Morale is sinking. There aren’t enough soldiers and police in the city right now to resist,” Mr. Faqiri said.
The Afghan government and the Taliban offered sharply different accounts of Saturday’s fighting.
Afghan security officials and their American allies said Afghan soldiers were conducting “clearing operations” in Ghazni, with Afghan army spokesman Maj. Mohammad Farooq saying Afghan security forces were in complete control of the city.
“We’re winning,” said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, adding that his group’s fighters were seeking to rid Ghazni of government forces and include it in the 90 percent of the surrounding province he claimed militants already controlled…