Afghan Forces, Backed by U.S. Firepower, Stave Off Taliban Siege by Craig Nelson and Ehsanullah Amiri – Wall Street Journal
KABUL - Taliban fighters stormed a strategic city in eastern Afghanistan on Friday, laying siege to government buildings and security installations, local officials and residents said, in a show of insurgent strength ahead of an expected cease-fire later this month.
Over more than six hours of heavy fighting, during which some residents huddled in their homes in terror, the U.S. carried out airstrikes to help Afghan security forces beat back the early-morning attack on Ghazni, the capital of Ghazni province located 80 miles southeast of Kabul.
By midmorning, the city of some 143,000 people was calm except for sporadic gunfire, a provincial security official said by telephone. “I’m at my office now, and I haven’t heard any in 10 minutes,” he said.
Earlier, in the dark of night following a multipronged attack by the Taliban, the situation was far more fraught.
A member of the provincial council, Nasir Faqiri, said the city was facing “disaster” unless central government authorities in Kabul sent help to prevent crucial landmarks in the city from falling under the militants’ control. It wasn’t immediately known if additional government forces arrived.
As the fighting raged, residents in the city retreated to the recesses of their homes, fearing the worst…