Afghan forces fight to retake key city

Afghan special forces were deployed for the counter-attack

Afghan special forces were deployed for the counter-attack

Afghan forces have been battling Taliban fighters to retake the city of Kunduz, a day after it fell to the insurgents in their biggest victory since their removal from power in 2001.

Heavy fighting has been reported, and President Ashraf Ghani said his forces had regained some government buildings.

Fresh troops have been arriving to support the offensive, he said.

The Taliban had forced Afghan troops and officials to retreat to the airport and freed hundreds from jail on Monday.

The attack on the northern city came as President Ashraf Ghani completed his first year in office.

In a televised address yesterday, he said “progress” was being made recapturing Kunduz but security forces had been hampered by the Taliban using civilians as human shields.

“The government of Afghanistan is a responsible government and it cannot bomb its people and compatriots inside the city and will not do so,” he said.

Heavy casualties had been inflicted on “the enemy”, he added, although this was denied by the Taliban.

US military planes have supported the operation, striking Taliban positions on the outskirts of the city, a Nato spokesman said.

Kunduz is the first provincial capital seized by the Taliban since they lost power in the US-led invasion 14 years ago.

Residents reported seeing Taliban fighters patrolling the streets in vehicles they seized during the offensive.

An eyewitness in Kunduz told the BBC that Taliban reinforcements arrived yesterday, with the situation too dangerous for locals to leave.

The Taliban’s new leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, said the government should admit defeat.

Kunduz residents “should not be worried about their lives and property” and should “continue as normal”, he said in a statement.

–BBC

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