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Afghanistan: Rockets hit Ghazni during president’s visit

Officials said there were no injuries and no claim of responsibility for the attack

Three rockets hit the Afghan city of Ghazni during a visit by President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday, in an apparent display of strength by militants as they ramp up attacks across the country.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the assault, which comes weeks after the Taliban stormed the provincial capital – a two-hour drive from Kabul – and engaged security forces in an intense battle that killed hundreds of people.

No one was killed or wounded in the latest attack, provincial deputy police chief Ramazan Ali Mohseni told AFP.

One of the rockets landed about 200 metres (660 feet) from the Ghazni governor’s office, where Ghani was holding meetings with security officials, religious leaders and members of civil society.

“It was far from the governor’s office,” said Haroon Chakhansuri, a spokesperson for the president.

Chakhansuri was with the president at the time of the attack and heard one of the three rockets, which he said landed on the outskirts of the city.

It was Ghani’s second visit to Ghazni since the Taliban’s raid on the city in early August.

The United Nations estimates at least 200 civilians were killed in the days-long battle that analysts said delivered the Taliban a military and psychological win against the government.

Days later multiple mortar rounds were fired on Kabul, landing near the presidential palace as Ghani delivered a speech on the first day of the Eid al-Adha holiday. The attack was claimed by Islamic State – Khorasan Province.

The Taliban have made significant gains on the battlefield in recent months, amid intensifying Afghan and international efforts to persuade the militants to discuss a peace deal.

Ghani himself has offered a possible settlement with the Taliban, including a ceasefire, prisoner release, and recognition of as a legitimate political party.

In August, he proposed a three-month unconditional ceasefire from the Eid al-Adha holiday until late November when Afghanistan celebrates the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.

The overlapping government and Taliban ceasefires in June – the first such truce in the country since the 2001 U.S. invasion – spurred hopes that a new path was opening for possible peace talks in the country to the end the nearly 17-year-old war.

Ghazni battle exposes nascent Afghan forces’ shortcomings

With reporting from AFP

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