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Taliban militants have launched an attack on an Afghan provincial capital and heavy fighting is under way as security forces try to beat them back, with terrified residents cowering in their homes amid explosions and gunfire.

Lieutenant Colonel Martin O'Donnell, a spokesman for USA forces in Afghanistan, said American forces and United States attack helicopters assisted Afghan troops in pushing back the Taliban during the night's multiple attacks in Ghazni.

The US military's Resolute Support mission said it had deployed attack helicopters and a drone to help repel the Taliban from Ghazni, which has about 150,000 residents.

Provincial security Chief Farid Ahmad Mashal says the dead bodies of at least 39 militants are left in the eastern parts of the city.

There were conflicting reports from residents and local officials, however, with some reporting that Taliban fighters were still roaming parts of the city and that gunfire continued throughout the day, while frightened residents hid in their homes.

'We are scared for our life.

A second government official said it was too unsafe for people to leave their homes and he had no immediate details on casualties.

'Heavy explosions and gunfire can be heard.

The US said that the city remained under government control. He feared that there were more wounded who could not make it to the hospital because the city was shut down and ambulances were being sent out.

The Taliban frequently exaggerate their battlefield gains and downplay losses incurred during fighting. "There has not been a single minute of silence for the last eight hours", said a senior government official in Ghazni.

The US said that the city remained under government control.

In May the Taliban attacked the western city of Farah.

Radmanish said at least 60 Taliban fighters were also killed in clashes at the base and elsewhere in the district.

However there are tentative signs that diplomatic efforts to bring the insurgents to the table for peace talks may be starting to bear fruit.

It has so far ignored President Ashraf Ghani's offer of unconditional peace negotiations.

The Taliban have stepped up attacks across the country since North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the United States formally ended their combat mission in 2014. Washington has repeatedly refused, saying negotiations must be Afghan-led. "In addition, US aircraft conducted a show of presence", Lt Col. Martin O'Donnell, spokesman for US Forces-Afghanistan, said in an emailed statement.

However, even while conducting preliminary discussions with US officials, the Taliban have launched a series of operations that underscored their ability to inflict severe damage on Afghan forces.

The Taliban are fighting the Western-backed government to restore their version of sharia, or Islamic law, after they were driven out by US -led forces in 2001.

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