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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

Rockets hit Afghan city during president's visit

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the assault

An Afghan policeman keeps watch at a check point in Ghazni city, Afghanistan September 16, 2018. Picture taken September 16, 2018. Reuters
An Afghan policeman keeps watch at a check point in Ghazni city, Afghanistan September 16, 2018. Picture taken September 16, 2018. Reuters

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 spokesman for the president.

Mr 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.

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It was Mr 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 ISIS.

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.