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    Taliban overrun parts of Afghan city of Farah in major offensive

    KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban fighters overran parts of western Farah city early Tuesday but were reportedly repelled by late evening as Afghan ground troops and reinforcements, backed by US and Afghan airstrikes, fought for hours to prevent the insurgents from capturing a second city since the conflict began in 2002.

    Residents hid from explosions and gunfire, some government buildings were seized, and the provincial governor fled the city during the day, Afghan media and local officials reported. A spokesman for the Taliban said in an online message that the insurgents had taken most of the provincial capital.

    But as the hours passed, residents and officials told news agencies by phone that local security forces were still in control of police headquarters and the national intelligence agency facility.

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    By late evening, Afghan officials said the insurgents were confined to isolated pockets. Some were said to be hiding in local homes, making it harder to flush them out. Officials reported a small number of casualties during the day.

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    Farah has about 50,000 residents, and the surrounding province, also called Farah, is a remote rural region known mostly for growing opium poppies. But if the city were to fall to the Taliban, even briefly, it would give the insurgents a major psychological victory.

    WASHINGTON POST