Kunduz City being cleared of militants: President
KABUL (Pajhwok): President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday said Afghan forces had tactically retreated from Kunduz City to avoid civilian casualties and the northern city was being cleared of militants.
The Taliban remained in control of Kunduz City, the capital of northern Kunduz province, on Tuesday, a day after they captured most of government buildings and areas after launching a massive coordinated attack from various directions.
Local officials said the Taliban had set free about 600 prisoners from the central jail in Kunduz after capturing the facility. The fleeing inmates include 110 Taliban prisoners.
Government officials earlier in the day said a counter offensive was launched on Tuesday to recapture the city from insurgents. They said security forces had regained control of the prison and the police headquarters.
President Ghani in a televised address to the nation in the presence of security officials said the problem the enemy had created in Kunduz was not “very serious.”
“Though the problem has been created, but the problem is limited. We assure the people the province of Kunduz is under the management of security forces.”
He said one Afghan National Army unit had reached northern Baghlan province and another had either reached Kunduz or on the way there.
Since yesterday, the president said the 209 Shaheen Military Corps commander Gen. Abdul Hamid had taken over leadership responsibility of the operation in Kunduz, where security forces were engaged in operations under one leadership.
He said the Afghan government was a responsible government which could not bombard its own civilians in the heart of the city. Ghani said the enemy had sustained heavy losses as a result of better coordination among security forces.
The president said the ongoing year was the hardest for Afghan security forces, but they had been able to manage things effectively.
“This war has been imposed on us as you all know that this war was imposed on us in the name of one (Mullah Omar) who had been dead for more than two years, the biggest lie in the history imposed on our people.”
The president said the Afghan government wanted a dignified, everlasting and respectable peace, urging the nation to trust their security forces and not to give in to fear and terror.
Reports said Taliban gunmen patrolled Kunduz streets on Tuesday, setting up checkpoints, searching for government loyalists and sealing off exit routes for anyone who wished to escape - effectively trapping the residents inside the city.
The Ministry of Public Health on Tuesday said so far 16 people had been killed and 170 others, a majority of them civilians, wounded during the clashes in Kunduz City.
Acting Defence Minister Masoom Stanikzai said they had launched investigation into the fall of Kunduz City and the details would be shared with the media. He said foreign militants fought alongside local comrades in Kunduz City and the insurgents had hidden among local residents. He said insurgent attacks on security posts in Takhar, Baghlan and Achin district of Badakhsahan province had been pushed back.
Interior Minister Noorul Haq Ullumi said special security forces had reached Kunduz province and reinforcements from northern Balkh, Takhar, Baghlan and northeastern Badakhshan provinces were on their way to the troubled province.
“The insurgents have no ability to enter a face-to-face fight with Afghan security forces, who had tactically retreated in order to avoid civilian casualties and they will bring under their control all areas lost,” he said.
Spymaster Rehmatullah Nabil said the fall of Kunduz had raised many questions and the area from where the Taliban had staged the attack fell under the security belt and the matter needed thorough investigation.
He said intelligence officials had prior information about the attack on Kunduz City, but there had been clashes over the past few months in the province and the insurgents targeted the affected areas.
To a question, he said more than 600 prisoners had escaped from the central jail in Kunduz City, including 110 Taliban who had been previously arrested.
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