Kunduz City reportedly falls to Taliban insurgents
KABUL (Pajhwok): Local officials on Monday said the Taliban had overrun the entire Kunduz City, the provincial capital of northern Kunduz province, while security forces in the airport and Bala Hisar area were preparing for a counterattack.
A Pajhwok Afghan News correspondent reported at 7:00pm that the insurgents took the majority of government buildings under their control, torching some buildings.
Most of international organisations and government officials had arrived at the airport to depart from the province, he reported.
The bulk of security forces had gathered around the airport two kilometres south of Kunduz City and others were preparing for a counter attack in Bala Hisar situated 500 meters south of the city.
A local official said the Taliban after capturing the main prison freed hundreds of inmates.
“Given the current security environment in Kunduz today it was deemed appropriate to relocate UN staff from the city,” UNAMA spokesman Dominic Medley said.
Andul Wadud Paiman, a lawmaker from Kunduz province, said the insurgents set afire the provincial National Directorate of Security (NDS) building. He said most of local residents had fled to find shelter elsewhere.
Earlier, eyewitnesses said the Taliban had captured most parts of Kunduz City after launching coordinated attacks, with the majority of locals fleeing for safety.
However, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said militants attacking the strategic city would be eliminated till the end of the day.
The Taliban launched their coordinated attacks on Kunduz City at midnight, overrunning some areas around the city.
Hayatullah, a resident, told Pajhwok Afghan News Taliban had seized Fatima Alzahra High School and the Cinema Square and they were 500 meters away from the governor’s house and the police headquarters. He added the office of the provincial council had also been captured by the Taliban.
Mohammad Amin, a resident of Zarkharid locality, said the Taliban captured the 300-plots area and its terrified residents fled homes.
Sayed Ali, another eyewitness, said the militants had taken control of Kunduz University, hostels and the agriculture department.
Kunduz police chief Mohammad Qasim Jangal Bagh said: “We will defeat the Taliban soon and people should not feel scared.”
Earlier, police spokesman Syed Sarwar Hussaini said Taliban militants had been pushed back and the bodies of 20 rebels killed by reinforcements still laid on the ground.
Speaking to reporters in Kabul, MoI spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said currently the Taliban had laid siege to two areas -- the 3rd police district and the civil hospital. He said areas captured by the enemy would be recaptured soon.
He said the Taliban attack was aimed at overrunning the police headquarters and the central prison, but security forces had foiled their design.
He said security forces in Kunduz, which managed to fend off a major Taliban advance earlier this year, had intelligence that another attack was being planned.
"Security forces in Kunduz were prepared for an attack but not one of this size, and not one that was coordinated in 10 different locations at the same time," he said.
He said intensive gun-battles were ongoing inside the city and part of the city was under the control of the Taliban, including the markets, shops and a number of government buildings.
The Taliban said at least 15 security officials had been killed, a cache of weapons and most of the government buildings captured by the fighters.
Earlier, government officials said the attack involved hundreds of Taliban gunmen currently locked in fierce clashes with security forces.
The Taliban launched their spring offensive with a major attack on Kunduz in April. They were pushed back by Afghan security forces but are believed to have regrouped and allied with other insurgents.
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