Afghan forces have halted the advance of Taliban militants in Uruzgan’s capital Tarin Kowt after the Taliban threatened to overrun it on Thursday.
“As you can hear, we now have air support bombing Taliban positions,” Uruzgan security chief Colonel Abdul Qawi said.
He said reinforcements had arrived and the Taliban had been beaten back in their advance and had taken huge casualties, but he didn’t elaborate on the number of casualties.
Residents said senior officials were abandoning government buildings and fleeing to the airport on the outer edges of the city, which has practically been besieged by the Taliban for months.
Media reports suggested that General Abdul Raziq, the notoriously ruthless police chief of Kandahar, had arrived in Tarin Kowt to personally lead operations against the Taliban militants.
“We have not been able to get out of the market and our shops are closed,” said a shopkeeper, who didn’t want to be named.
He said he could hear gunfire and blasts going off in the distance, but he was “too afraid” to go out.
Jan Agha, a resident in Uruzgan, earlier said that Afghan police had been fleeing their posts without fighting after the Taliban issued an amnesty letter to government employees in Uruzgan on Wednesday.
The Taliban are fighting to take over police and intelligence agency headquarters, residents said, voicing fears they will storm the local prison to free captured insurgents.