Kunduz | Explosions echoed across Kunduz as Afghan commandos drove back a Taliban assault, forcing residents to shelter in their homes, a year after militants briefly seized the strategic provincial capital.
Government helicopters were targeting gunmen from the air in a bid to repel the attack, which came a day before President Ashraf Ghani was due to meet world powers at a major donors’ conference in Brussels.
The militants were driven out of the city centre late yesterday, NATO and local police said.
“Government controls Kunduz City & Afghan security forces are in control of the main square with additional troops coming,” the NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan said on Twitter.
“US forces have multiple assets & enablers in area to provide support.”
Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said the United States had conducted air strikes in support of Afghan troops, and special operations forces were also on hand.
“The situation there remains fluid, we are continuing to watch it closely and to work with our Afghan partners,” he said.
Kunduz police chief Kassim Jangal Bagh confirmed that Afghan forces were in control.
“The city centre is now in our hands and not in their hands. We are launching an attack to clean up the area,” he told AFP.
Earlier in the day the provincial governor’s office said Afghan commandos flown in from Kabul to boost local forces had begun pushing the insurgents back to the city’s outskirts.
Special forces could be seen in the streets and some shops and businesses briefly reopened even as the sounds of fighting continued, an AFP correspondent said.
“Their attack has been repelled and the security forces are retaking the areas they had lost,” governor Assadullah Omerkhil told reporters there, adding that “tens” of Taliban had been killed.
Doctor Naeem Mangal, head of the Kunduz central hospital, said 43 civilians wounded by bullets and shrapnel had been brought in, with one dead body.
The Afghan interior ministry said one policeman had been killed and four wounded. It was not clear if they were included in the hospital’s toll.
The insurgents, who are known to exaggerate their claims, said they had killed multiple soldiers.
Fighting was also reported along the Kunduz-Baghlan highway.
Subscribe to our email newsletter.