Members of the Taliban stand at the site of the execution of three men in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, April 18, 2015. (REUTERS/Stringer)
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A brazen and bloody overnight assault Friday by the Taliban on a key provincial capital in central Afghanistan has increased pressure on U.S.-backed Afghan forces that are withering under relentless attacks, prompting President Ashraf Ghani to call an emergency meeting of his security officials.While government security forces in the city of Ghazni repulsed the multipronged attack with the help of U.S. air support, Taliban insurgents remained hunkered down on its outskirts, and some were still holed up in residential areas, according to Interior Ministry deputy spokesman, Nasrat Rahimi.Still, the Afghan forces were engaged in house-to house battles in some residential areas to root out the remnants of the Taliban's attack force.Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said American forces and U.S. attack helicopters flew in overnight.The Taliban have stepped up attacks across the country since NATO and the United States formally ended their combat mission in 2014 .Since an unprecedented Taliban cease-fire in June to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, Taliban insurgents have stepped up attacks in what would appear to be an attempt to dispel hopes of peace that followed scenes of Taliban and Afghan soldiers and police embracing and dancing in the street.
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