In pictures and latest on coordinated Taliban attack on Ghazni city

Smoke rises into the air after Taliban militants launched an attack on the Afghan provincial capital Ghazni

Smoke rises into the air after Taliban militants launched an attack on the Afghan provincial capital Ghazni

Taliban fighters hiding inside homes in the city's residential areas slipped into the streets attacking Afghan security forces, provincial police chief Farid Ahmad Mashal told Associated Press.

To hold onto the city in the fierce, daylong fighting, Afghan forces had to call in reinforcements as well as US air power, including helicopter gunships, fighter jets and a drone strike.

'Heavy explosions and gunfire can be heard.

The attack on Ghazni comes as the Taliban faces growing pressure to agree to peace talks with the Afghan government to end the 17-year war.

At least 14 security forces were killed and 20 wounded in the battle, said Baz Mohammad Hemat, administrator of the Ghazni city hospital.

The militants took control of parts of the city before being pushed back to the outskirts, officials said.

Afghan soldiers fought back as the heavily-armed militants converged from four sides of the province, resulting in multiple casualties on all sides, Ghazni government spokesman Mohammad Arif Noori told CNN. "There has not been a single minute of silence for the last eight hours", said a senior government official in Ghazni.

USA attack helicopters and drone aircraft helped government forces fight back.

United States forces responded with attack helicopters and a drone strike, according to US Forces Afghanistan spokesman Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell.

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Afghan forces have been struggling to hold back the resurgent militant group since the withdrawal of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation combat forces at the end of 2014.

Sporadic gunfire continued to echo, with officials telling residents to stay in their homes as Taliban fighters continued to roam the streets.

The Taliban frequently exaggerate their battlefield gains and downplay losses incurred during fighting.

The brazen assaults by the Taliban, who have been gaining more ground in their annual spring offensive and who have shrugged off the government's latest offers of a cease-fire and negotiations, underscore the difficulties Afghan forces face in battling the relentless insurgency on their own in efforts to end the almost 17-year war.

He said China has always supported the issue of peace talks and that they "continue to facilitate the talks based on the principle of (it being) Afghan-led and Afghan-owned".

Secret talks were recently held in Qatar between Taliban and U.S. officials after an unprecedented three-day ceasefire during Eid celebrations in June that was largely respected by both sides.

"They want to enter the talks from the position of strength, and they want to capture big cities before potential peace negotiations", said Mir.

The Taliban attack came as Ghazni contemplated a cease-fire offer to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha later this month.

An unprecedented truce in June brought fighting between security forces and the Taliban to a temporary halt, giving war-weary Afghans some welcome relief from violence.

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