Thousands flee fighting
About 5,000 Afghan families have fled their homes in Kunduz after days of fighting between Taliban fighters and government forces, officials said yesterday, as the deadline looms for US-led troops to withdraw.
Heavy fighting has also been reported in the provinces of Kandahar and Baghlan, where the Afghan forces claimed to have retaken areas from Taliban control but the armed group still held on to parts of Pul-e-Khumri area in central Baghlan, according to local media.
The Taliban has taken control of dozens of districts since US-led Nato foreign forces started their final withdrawal in May.
The Afghan group, which has been waging an armed rebellion since it was toppled from power in a 2001 US-led invasion, continues to surround Kunduz city.
The Taliban briefly seized the city twice in recent years but has now captured the surrounding districts and a nearby border crossing with Tajikistan.
Ghulam Sakhi Rasouli, director of the Kunduz Refugees and Repatriation Department, told AFP news agency about 5,000 families had been displaced by the fighting, up to 2,000 of which had fled to Kabul and other provinces.
Rahmatullah Hamnawa, a journalist based in Kunduz, told Al Jazeera he was forced to move his family from one area of the city to another amid the conflict.
"We hear gunfire and fighting all night," he said, adding that it has been at least a week since the fighting flared in parts of the city and the nearby areas.
Another 8,000 families have been displaced across the Kunduz province following a month of sporadic clashes between the Taliban and government forces, local officials said.
Kunduz city's public health director Ehsanullah Fazli said that since the fighting erupted more than a week ago, 29 civilians have been killed and 225 wounded.
Since early May, the Taliban has launched several bloody offensives targeting government forces across the rugged countryside and says it has seized nearly 90 of the country's more than 400 districts.
Violence surged after the US military began the withdrawal of its last remaining 2,500 troops from the country to meet the September 11 deadline announced by President Biden to end America's longest war.