The Taliban attacked the town of Farah

Multiple blasts and gun battle in eastern Afghan city

Taliban militants launched a major offensive at 2.40 am local time Tuesday (2210 GMT Monday) in a coordinated effort to seize full control of Farah, a provincial security source told Xinhua news agency.

"There is fighting still going on in the city of Farah", Lt. Col. Martin L. O'Donnell, a spokesman for Resolute Support, told Business Insider over the phone, which "despite rumors to the contrary, remains on the outskirts of the city, three kilometers to the north and west". Dozens of Afghan security forces and Taliban insurgents have been killed and injured.

O'Donnell said that the fighting is expected to go into the night and even tomorrow, and that USA advisers are on the ground, but not involved in the fighting to his knowledge.

Taliban also claimed capturing many areas of Farah including the third police district and the NDS headquarter.

"Security checkpoints around the city have collapsed into the hands of the Taliban, causing high casualties among security forces", he said.

By midday, gunshots could be heard around Farah's central prison, intelligence department and police headquarters, only a few kilometers from the compound of the provincial governor, near the Iran-Afghanistan border.

He said operations continue to suppress the militants as he assured that the situation would change by the end of the day. "Both Afghan A-29s and Mi-17s have conducted multiple air strikes, and U.S. forces have conducted one drone strike".

Satar Hissaini, a tribal elder in Farah, told AFP: 'The situation is very bad'.

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At least some militants have been hiding in private houses, making it hard for Afghan forces to use heavy weapons, Farah governor Abdul Basir Salangi told Ariana News, adding: "But still we are taking back positions one by one".

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

Many radio and television channels in the province have stopped broadcasting, fearing for their employees' lives, according to media watchdog Nai.

Farah is a vast and sparsely populated province with tens of thousands of dollars generated under custom duty.

The Taliban have pledged to cooperate with the project.

Kabul officials acknowledged to local media that security forces had suffered recent casualties in fighting to retake parts of Farah, Baghlan and Ghor provinces, though some defense officials disputed reports that military losses had reached 700 dead and wounded in recent weeks.

A resurgent Taliban, largely dependent on narcotics revenues, has expanded its sway in the country since the withdrawal of most worldwide combat forces at the end of 2014.

So far, it seems to have done little to curb the Taliban advance, and despite the pressure the insurgents haven't shown much interest in the government's offer of a comprehensive peace agreement.

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