Afghan security forces “repelled” a coordinated Taliban assault on the northern city of Kunduz yesterday, President Ashraf Ghani said, amid competing claims from the insurgents.
The multi-pronged offensive on Kunduz, which has come under frequent attack since 2015, occurred 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 fighting started around 1:00 am (2030 GMT Friday), when Taliban militants advanced on the city from several directions.
Gunfire could be heard across Kunduz, the capital of Kunduz province near the Tajik border, and as the day wore on, both sides claimed units from the other’s forces were surrendering.
But by yesterday evening, the Afghan government said it had gained the upper hand.
“The Taliban attacked Kunduz today and caused damages to civilians and their houses. They wanted to create an atmosphere of fear in the city,” Ghani said in a statement.
“Their attack was repelled by our brave security forces.”
A few hours earlier, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed the attack had resulted in the capture of several important structures.
US aircraft supported the Afghan air force in joint air strikes, a US official told AFP, while American trainers gave advice to Afghan ground troops.
Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said “hundreds of Taliban terrorists had been killed”, but there was no way to immediately verify the claim.
“The situation is under control in Kunduz but clearing operation is ongoing,” he said.