US forces launched airstrikes to counter a major Taliban assault on an Afghan provincial capital, where terrified residents cowered in their homes amid explosions and gunfire as security forces try to beat the insurgents back.

Officials said afghan special forces were also being deployed to the southeastern city of Ghazni.Provincial governor spokesman Arif Noori told AFP that at least one Afghan soldier has been killed and seven others wounded in the fighting in the southeastern city of Ghazni.

He added civilian houses and army checkpoints have come under mortar attack and the bodies of dozens of Taliban fighters are in the streets.The Taliban began the attack late Thursday from several positions around the city.

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