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Afghanistan: Taliban, Afghan forces battle for control of Kunduz city

29th Sep 2015
Afghanistan: Taliban, Afghan forces battle for control of Kunduz city

By Zabihullah Tamanna


KABUL, (AA): Hundreds of Taliban militants launched a large-scale attack on Kunduz city, the capital of northern Kunduz province, early Monday morning and now appear to have wrestled control of the city from government forces, local Afghan media said.


According to Nasratullah Ibrahimi, a local journalist reporting from inside Kunduz city, Taliban militants were now in complete control of the whole city, including the governor’s office, provincial police department, official institutions and had also freed prisoners from the Kunduz Central Jail.

Ibrahimi said that all Afghan security forces and provincial officials had pulled out of city and were lodged at an airport on the suburbs of city. Most of telephone towers in the city had either been switched off or destroyed during the fighting.

He added that the Taliban were now going house-to-house in the city in search of government staff and security forces.

The local Afghan Tolonews television also said that the city had fallen to the Taliban. It quoted eyewitnesses as saying that the city was now littered with scores of bodies and heavy fighting was still on going. Also, the Taliban were reportedly looting local banks in the area.

Despite reports in the Afghan media, the claim of Kunduz falling completely into the hands of the Taliban is yet to be confirmed by the Afghan government and official institutions.

Earlier, local Afghan officials claimed that government forces had repulsed the attack and killed 20 militants. According to provincial police spokesman, Colonel Saed Sarwar Hussaini, reinforcements of police and army troops, backed by the Afghan Air Force, had been sent to Kunduz province, located some 250 kilometers north of the capital, Kabul.

“Our forces have repulsed the enemy attack and pushed them back to the city gates,” Hussaini told Anadolu Agency. However, unverified pictures circulating on social media showed Taliban militants hoisting their flags in several parts of the city; it also showed militants searching for wounded security personnel with the help of a medic at a provincial hospital.

The fighting started in the early hours of morning with Taliban launching several attacks on the city from the north, east and west sides.

“Four bodies and 48 wounded were transferred to provincial hospitals following the fighting in Kunduz city this morning. Most of the injured were civilians, who received shrapnel and bullet wounds,” director of the provincial health department, Saad Mukhtar, said.

He added that casualty figures might increase as some wounded remained in critical condition.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), which runs a trauma hospital in the province, tweeted that the “hospital has received 66 patients, including eight dead on arrival; 17 [people are] in critical condition.”

Some militants have reportedly entered homes of civilians and were using them as bastions; also some houses reportedly caught fire during the attack and there was a fear that some families might be trapped inside.

Ahmad Jawid, another local journalist, told Anadolu Agency that the city was under a lockdown, with gunfire and explosions being heard from several parts of the city. He claimed that Taliban militants were in control of the city gates and were preventing locals from leaving for safer areas.

“The fight has reached around the airport which plays a very vital role for Afghan national security forces,” Jawid said.

The militants also launched coordinated attacks on two neighboring districts, Chardara and Archi.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid earlier said that the militants had made their way into the city and were in the city center. He urged locals to not leave their homes for their own safety.

Afghan Ministry of Interior is expected to hold a press briefing on the development in Kunduz city.

Kunduz, a strategically important province, bordering Tajikistan, has seen heavy clashes in the past few months.

[Photo: Afghan security forces take security measures around in Kunduz city earlier in July. Photographer: Undercover Police Station/Anadolu Agency]

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