Taliban capture key Afghan city of Kunduz - Times of India

Taliban capture key Afghan city of Kunduz – Times of India


ISLAMABAD: The Taliban on Sunday captured Afghanistan’s key city of Kunduz following a fierce combat with the government forces before fighting their way into another northern city of Sar-e-Pul.
Except for the army base and Kunduz’s airport, the insurgents have taken control of all the government buildings with their white flag flying at the central roundabout of the city, the capital of the northern province with the same name.
“Heavy clashes started yesterday [Saturday] afternoon, all government headquarters are in control of the Taliban, only the army base and the airport is with ANDSF ( Afghan National Defense and Security Forces) from where they are resisting the Taliban,” Amrudddin Wali, a provincial lawmaker of Kunduz assembly, told reporters.
While the country’s interior ministry claimed Afghan commandoes are conducting coordinated operations, the Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group has captured the police headquarters, the governor’s compound, intelligence department and the prison in Kunduz.
“The government is denying that Kunduz has fallen but the Taliban fighters are present in most part of the city,” Rafiq Sherzad, a local journalist, told TOI on phone, describing the situation in the city as “too chaotic”. “Fire has engulfed buildings, shops and markets with debris scattered all around. A fire at a shoe market has caused huge financial losses to people,” Sherzad said, adding that families were seen fleeing the city amid heavy firing and shelling.
Health officials in Kunduz said 14 bodies, including those of women and children, and more than 30 injured people were received at the city’s hospital.
Hours after seizing Kunduz, the Taliban took control of government buildings in the northern provincial capital of Sar-e-Pul, forcing Afghan forces out of the main city to a nearby military base, said Mohammad Noor Rahmani, a provincial council member of Sar-e-Pul province.
Since Friday, four provincial capitals have fallen to the Taliban with Kunduz considered to be their most important gain due to its strategic importance. The militants had captured the city in 2015 and again in 2016 but had failed to hold it for long.
Home to around 270,000 people, Kunduz is considered a gateway to Afghanistan’s mineral-rich northern provinces and Central Asia.
On Saturday, the militants had captured Shehberghan, the capital of Jawzjan, a day after Zaranj, the capital of Nimruz, fell to the group without a fight.
Violence has escalated across the war-ravaged country after the US and Nato forces began withdrawal from it after 20 years of military operations.
The troops pullout had coincided with rapid advances of the Taliban, causing displacement of thousands of civilians. Currently, intense fighting continued in the capitals of southern Kandahar and Helmand provinces. The Taliban have now been trying for weeks to take over Kandahar and Lashkar Gah, the provincial capitals.





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