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Afghan security forces recapture city from Taliban

Kabul (dpa) - Afghan security forces have recaptured a city in south-eastern Paktia province from the Taliban, officials said on Friday morning.

The city of Jani Khel had fallen to Taliban insurgents on July 25.

"After seven days of heavy fight, Afghan security forces managed to take control of Jani Khel early on Friday morning," the spokesman for Paktia's governnment, Abdullah Hasrat, told dpa.

The fighting was supported by US air strikes, Hasrat said.

According to him, Afghan security forces killed 152 insurgents and injured 123 others.

On the government side, nine Afghan security force members were killed and 15 were wounded.

The figures could not immediately be verified independently. All stakeholders in the conflict have been known to tweak casualty figures in their favour.

Confirming the recapture of Jani Khel, a provincial council member, Allah Mir Khan Bahramzoi, said, "We have received reports of 15 civilian wounded and around 250 families displaced."

In recent weeks, the Taliban have been increasing their attacks on towns and cities across the country.

Cities have been attacked in Kunduz and Baghlan provinces in Afghanistan's north, Badakhshan in the north-east, Ghor in the centre, Helmand, Kandahar in the south and Paktia in the south-east.

At least five people were killed after Taliban militants attacked a money exchange market in Helmand province early Friday morning, locals and officials said.

The fighting started when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the gate of the exchange market in Gereshk district, killing three guards and two others, according to Razia Baluch, a provincial council member from Helmand.

Three attackers entered the market, and fighting between the militants and the Afghan security forces is still ongoing, she said.

"We are hunkered down inside and can't go outside for fear of getting shot," said Mawlawi Ahmad, an elder from Gereshk.

The actual target might have been the district governor's building nearby, but the militants were identified before they reached their target, Baluch said.

The attack was on an Afghan security force base and other government institutions, Taliban spokesman Qari Yosuf Ahmadi said via Twitter.

Gereshk district has been a centre of fighting between Taliban and Afghan security forces for several weeks. A mistaken US airstrike on July 21 killed 16 people and wounded two Afghan security force members in the district.

The Taliban control at least 80 per cent of Helmand province and have intensified attacks in neighbouring Uruzgan and Kandahar provinces.

Meanwhile, one NATO soldier and three civilians were killed in the second suicide attack to target a NATO convoy in Afghanistan in as many days, officials said on Friday.

NATO mission Resolute Support (RS) had already confirmed the death of a soldier in the Kabul attack late Thursday, without giving further information on the nationality of the victim.

On Friday morning, Basir Mujahid, police spokesman in Kabul province, confirmed that three civilians had also been killed and four injured.

NATO said that another five soldiers and an interpreter were also injured, adding in a statement that they were in stable condition and being treated at nearby Bagram Airfield, the largest US base in the country.

The group was on a joint patrol with Afghan forces in the Qarabagh district of the capital Kabul when they were attacked by a suicide bomber.

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