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    Counter-insurgency offensive launched in Kunduz

    KUNDUZ CITY (PAN): A new counterinsurgency operation, codenamed Omaid (Hope), has been launched to drive insurgents from northern Kunduz province, a military official said on Saturday.

    "The target is to flush out Taliban from areas where they have recently intensified their activities," the 209th Shaheen Military Corps commander, Lt. Gen. Zalmay Wesa, told a meeting of Afghan and foreign soldiers.

    The meeting was aimed at increasing cooperation between local and international troops during operations against insurgents.

    "According to our information, the Taliban have expanded activities in parts of Kunduz and Baghlan provinces, so we decided to launch a major operation," Wesa said.

    The offensive was currently underway in Dasht-i-Archi, Imam Sahib and Chardara districts of Kunduz and Burka town of neighbouring Balkh province, he said. The air and ground offensive could last four months, he suggested.

    Residents of Chardara district recently complained that anti-government fighters had restarted activities, disturbing ordinary people.

    Governor Mohammad Anwar Jagdalak, who also attended the meeting, said work on some projects would continue side by side with the operation.

    The schemes included bridges, school buildings and supply of clean drinking water, he said.  Jagdalak accused the central government of ignoring his demand for reconstruction and development projects.

    Meanwhile, three militants were killed after they attacked a police checkpoint in the Gor Tepa area of the province, an official said.