Afghan forces struggle to retake Kunduz city

U.S.-led NATO force confirms airstrikes against Taliban targets

Zabihullah Tamanna   | 29.09.2015
Afghan forces struggle to retake Kunduz city Afghan security forces launched an operation to retake Kunduz city, the capital of northern Kunduz province, Tuesday morning after large parts of it fell to Taliban forces Monday, Afghan officials said. US-led coalition forces have also conducted their first airstrike on Talban targets on the outskirts of northern Kunduz city. (Yasin Demirci - Anadolu Agency)

KABUL, Afghanistan

Afghan security forces have launched a counter-operation on Tuesday morning to retake Kunduz city from the Taliban.

But reports are emerging of government reinforcements being halted from reaching the city by Taliban ambushes.

The strategic northern location largely fell under insurgent control on Monday, Afghan authorities said, after 14 hours of intense fighting.

Interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said reinforcements had been deployed in the province, but this claim has not been verified by independent sources.

Some reports suggest that reinforcements have been halted by Taliban militants on the highway between the capital Kabul and Kunduz province.

“Security forces coming from Kabul were ambushed by the Taliban in Jar Khoshk locality, in Kunduz’s neighboring province of Baghlan,” an Afghan officer told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity.

One soldier was killed in the ambush while others pulled back to previous positions.

He added that state forces coming from the adjacent province of Takhar also have been trapped on the way due to landmines planted by the Taliban.

The Afghan ministry of defense claimed to have recaptured the city’s central jail – emptied of inmates by the Taliban – as well as police headhunters.

“Afghan army reinforcements launched their operation this morning at 8 a.m. local time [0330 GMT]. The police headquarters and provincial jail have been liberated,” the ministry said in statement.

Ahmad Jawid, an Afghan journalist hiding in Kunduz, told Anadolu Agency via phone that despite this morning’s NATO airstrike and counter-operation by security forces, the Taliban were moving freely in the city and still controlled vast areas.

“I heard Afghan forces have captured prison and police HQ,” Jawid said, adding: ”An army helicopter also was shooting at the Taliban since this morning.”

Health ministry spokesperson Wahidullah Mayar said: “Our hospitals in Kunduz province have received 172 injured patients and 16 dead bodies so far.”

U.S.-led NATO forces confirmed having conducted airstrikes against Taliban targets in Kunduz city's outskirts on Tuesday morning amid a flood of criticism from Afghan officials and citizens for not helping the security forces.

"U.S. forces conducted an airstrike in Kunduz today to eliminate a threat to coalition and Afghan forces operating in the vicinity of Kunduz," said Colonel Brian Tribus, a spokesman for the NATO-led coalition, in a statement.

Daesh attacks in the east

As Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) try to retake Kunduz city from the Taliban, Daesh affiliates have launched raids on troops in eastern Afghanistan.

According to Haji Ghalib Mujahid, chief of Achin district, Nangarhar province, some 600 Daesh fighters attacked Afghan security posts in the district early this morning.

He said at least 18 fighters were killed while only three security-force members sustained injuries.

“Daesh militants attacked at 2 a.m. today and the clash is still underway,” Mujahid said.

Today’s attack came after hundreds of self-described Daesh militants attacked Afghan security outposts in Ahcin district on Sunday.

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