Residents searched coffins for loved ones and scuffed through the ashes of burned buildings as the scale of the devastation in Afghanistan's Ghazni became clear Wednesday, six days after a Taliban assault cut off most communication.

Fighting appeared to have ceased in the provincial capital, just two hours drive from Kabul, nearly a week after the Taliban first launched their assault late Thursday, in the process destroying telecommunications towers and slowing the flow of information from the city to a trickle.

Many residents have already fled the city, adding to the influx of people displaced by violence that has long strained resources in Kabul.

Those left behind have spent days hiding in basements, struggling to keep children and each other calm as the sound of intense ground fighting and US airstrikes boomed overhead.

With food and water growing short, they were warily coming out on to the streets to find loved ones lost and livelihoods destroyed.

Outside of Ghazni's central hospital women and soldiers cautiously inspected the bodies filling wooden caskets scattered near the entrance. There, the corpses of what appeared to be Afghan security forces, Taliban fighters and civilians were left during the melee.

Attendants wore gas masks while others covered their faces with scarves and shawls as they peeled back the sheets covering the corpses and examined the faces of the dead, searching for family members.

"We request the government to move the dead bodies piled up in the provincial hospital. People are suffering from the smell of the bodies," said one resident.

With mobile service partially restored to pockets of Ghazni Wednesday for the first time in days, others were frantically calling loved ones, praying for answers.

"Since the morning, I have received about a hundred calls from friends, relatives and colleagues asking if I was alive," said resident Abdul.

"Today for the first time someone from the hospital called me to say that my cousin was wounded," said another, Zargham, as he ran toward the medical facility after days of agonising over her fate.

'Nothing left here'

Information coming from the city remains patchy and difficult to verify.

The UN special representative for Afghanistan has said reports indicate that the civilian death toll from the fighting was "immense", with unverified tolls suggesting more than 100 civilians were killed in the clashes.

Officials said at least 100 Afghan security forces had also died in the battle, while US authorities added that hundreds of Taliban fighters were killed.

"We received around a hundred dead bodies -- most of which were security forces and police but also there were some civilians among them," said Abdul Basir Ramaki, the head of Ghazni provincial hospital.

The carnage unleashed also underscored the devastating economic impact of the nearly 17-year-old conflict.

During the fighting an entire market was razed by the onslaught. Shops and stalls in the sprawling bazaar were reduced to ash by raging fires that may ultimately destroy the livelihoods of the owners.

Shopkeepers with scarves woven around their faces shovelled away mountains of ash that had once been their inventory, and picked through the charred ruins trying to find anything salvagable.

"Everyone is hurt financially," said one shopkeeper.

"We have nothing much left for us here."