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KABUL – Taliban militants launched an attack on a strategically significant southeastern Afghan city of Ghazni early Friday and a heavy battle is underway as security forces were trying to push them back.

Government officials said that the insurgents were present within 300 yards of the governor’s office and police headquarters. They said that fighting is underway, adding that Taliban will not be allowed to take control of the city.

In the attack, Taliban targeted civilian houses and army checkpoints, while numbers of attackers were killed in the counter attack.

Afghan officials said that at least one soldier was martyred and seven others injured, while loud explosions and gun firings are heard in Ghazni.

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman, said on Twitter that the insurgents had entered every part of the city. “Hundreds of Mujahedeen entered the city, captured the police headquarters and all six police districts and an important military base, Bala Hesar,” he said in another statement.

The insurgents further claimed to have killed at least 140 security officials.

t was the latest in a series of attempts by the Taliban over the past three years to capture urban centres.

Afghan forces have been fighting to hold back the banned group since the withdrawal of NATO combat forces at the end of 2014.

In May, the Taliban attacked the western city of Farah; however, the militants were throw out of the city by the Afghan commandos and US air strikes after a intense battle.

The attack on Ghazni comes as the Taliban faces ramping up pressure to agree to hold peace talks with the Afghan government in order to over a decade long war.

The militant group has so far not responded to an offer made by President Ashraf Ghani for holding unconditional peace negotiations.

However, the Taliban has long emphasised on holding direct talks with the United States, while Washington has repeatedly asked them to talk with Afghan-led negotiations.