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Heavy fighting has broken out in the western Afghan city of Farah after the Taliban launched a major offensive overnight to capture the restive provincial capital, with residents reporting air strikes, explosions and gunfire. "Six security forces have been killed in clashes with the Taliban and a security police official was wounded in the clashes", he said.

Mohammad Sarwar Osmani, a lawmaker form Farah province, also confirmed the Taliban attacks.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. He said fighters launched attacks from multiple directions, after which they overran several checkpoints in the city.

At the same time, Taliban fighters have stepped up the pressure on government forces across the country, from Baghlan province in the north, where they seized a district center last week, to Farah in the southwest or Ghazni, south of Kabul.

The province has been the scene of heavy clashes between Taliban and security forces over the past few months.

The Taliban issued a statement warning residents to remain inside their homes and called on people to "stay calm".

He said except two or three areas; other key areas such as the police headquarter, central jail, governor's house, National Directorate of Security (NDS) headquarter, division-71, airport and other areas were under the Afghan forces control.

"We thank Farah people for their strong support, we will defend Farah with the support of people and God and eliminate the enemy", he said.

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"U.S. Forces-Afghanistan stand firm beside our Afghan partners and will continue to reinforce this Afghan-led offensive", the statement said. "There is no danger of Farah city collapsing into the hands of Taliban", said Danish.

"An intense battle is going on in the city", he said without providing additional details.

General Amarkhail added that "even ordinary citizens were aware of the Taliban gradually taking over more areas and becoming a formidable force in the province".

The attack on Farah was the first on a provincial capital this year.

"Government reinforcements have arrived including around 100 commando forces".

However, there was no immediate confirmation from NATO's mission in Kabul.

Despite security concerns, the Taliban have pledged to cooperate with the gas project.


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