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Iran Press TV

Afghan troops fight Taliban to retake Kunduz

Iran Press TV

Mon Oct 3, 2016 10:21PM

Afghan officials say army troops have regained control of most of the northern city of Kunduz city a day after Taliban militants pushed to the city center.

Fierce gunbattles raged for a second day Tuesday across the provincial capital as authorities warned militants were hiding in civilian homes.

Head of the Kunduz provincial council Mohammad Yusouf Ayubi said Taliban militants have planted mines in different areas of the city and that local people are trapped in their homes.

He said the city has become a battlefield, with fighting going on in many different areas.

Social media accounts linked to the Taliban said the group's fighters were still inside the city, with clashes ongoing and government troops "on the run."

Throughout Monday's attack, Taliban militants have taunted Afghan forces and their Western backers.

The assault came just over a year after militants briefly seized the city. It coincided with President Ashraf Ghani's departure for Brussels to meet world leaders for a crucial foreign aid conference.

The attack in Kunduz, as well as Taliban gains in areas of Helmand and Uruzgan where they also threaten provincial capitals, have highlighted the militant group's growing strength.

There is still a large contingent of US troops and other foreign forces in Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, questions were raised about how the Taliban managed to once again penetrate the city's defenses, despite months of military operations aimed at preventing a repeat of last year's debacle.

In Washington on Monday, Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis told reporters the Taliban attack was more of a "Western-movie style shoot-them-up" raid than a concerted military offensive.

The US military later said it had positioned a "robust" force of special forces as well as aircraft near the city to provide support to Afghan troops.

Some witnesses said many police had simply abandoned their checkpoints without firing a shot as Taliban moved in.

In Lashkar Gah, an Afghan policeman said 12 of his men were killed by Taliban fighters who attacked checkpoints around the capital of southern Helmand province.

The Taliban attacked four checkpoints late on Monday, killing 12 and wounding another 11 policemen, he said.

Lashkah Gah has been under threat of Taliban takeover for months as militants have been slowly taking control of Helmand since the beginning of the year.

The provincial spokesman, Omar Zwak, said Khanashin district in the south of the province had fallen to the Taliban after coming under attack on Monday.

He said around 45 members of Afghan security forces have been killed in fighting there and more than 15 have been taken captive in recent days.

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