Afghan policemen stand alert during fighting between Taliban militants and Afghan security forces in Kunduz. File photo/ AFP
Taliban insurgents on Saturday launched a multi-pronged attack on Kunduz, a strategically important city in northern Afghanistan that has come under frequent assault since 2015.
The ongoing attack came as the US and the Taliban continue to seek an agreement in Doha that would see thousands of American troops leave Afghanistan in return for various security guarantees.
Officials said the attack started around 1:00am (2030 GMT Friday), when Taliban fighters assaulted the city from several directions.
“So far, eight Taliban fighters have been killed in the east and west of Kunduz,” Sayed Sarwar Hussaini, Kunduz police spokesman, told AFP.
“The fighting is ongoing. Commando forces have arrived and are trying to repel the Taliban attacks.”
An AFP reporter in Kunduz said small-arms and heavy-weapons fire could be heard in four areas of the city.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed that Saturday’s attack had resulted in the capture of several important structures.
“The Taliban attacked Kunduz city from several directions this morning. We are in the city now capturing government buildings one after the other,” he told reporters.
In late September 2015, the Taliban attacked Kunduz, located near the border with Tajikistan.
The insurgents overwhelmed local forces and briefly seized the city, and it was only through extensive US air support that the Taliban were repelled.
The fall of Kunduz underscored the vulnerability of Afghan security forces and played a role in stopping the pull-out of US forces under president Barack Obama.
Since then, the city has come under frequent Taliban attack but the insurgents have not been able to repeat a full capture.
The death toll from a late-night Taliban suicide attack in the Afghan capital rose to 16 civilians on Tuesday, with 119 people wounded, an official said.
Deadly violence has been taking a heavy toll on civilians in Afghanistan despite the ongoing peace negotiations and that’s not acceptable. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has in its latest report stated that more civilians were killed by Afghan and international coalition forces in the first half of this
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